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Bibi’s Victory: What It Means for Iran, the Abraham Accords, and the Biden Admin

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Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) is expected to serve as Israeli prime minister for the third time, as Likud and its allies have won 64 seats in the recent election. Bibi is currently Israel’s longest serving prime minister, having served over 15 years in two terms. His re-election marks a resurgent right wing in Israeli politics, and showcases the Likud party as the dominant force in Israel since Menachem Begin’s 1977 election to prime minister.

Prior to the recent election, Bibi faced a harsh defamatory campaign against several of his opponents. An MK of the hard-left Meretz party called Bibi “a malignant disease.” The head of Labor repeated the canard that Bibi cooperated in the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. A Yesh Atid MK likened Bibi to Hitler.

But after the dust settled, such talk didn’t walk. The Labor party will fall to 4 seats (from 7 in last election). Labor’s legacy is a quite dated one, as the party has held the prime minister’s seat for only about 6.5 years total since 1977. The Meretz party fell to 0 seats, the first time it had failed to garner any seats since its founding in 1992.

So, what should we expect from a Bibi victory?

Iran. Bibi will most likely ratchet up pressure on Iran, much like he did in his previous tenure as prime minister. Bibi was at the helm when Israel reportedly participated in the 2020 assassinations of Qasem Soleimani (a key IRGC figure) and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, believed to be the head of Iran’s nuclear program. Bibi was also the prime minister when the Mossad captured Iran’s nuclear file from deep inside Iran. One outgoing Likud member of Knesset stated that he believes that Bibi will strike Iran: “I’m basing my assessment on the fact that when there is no choice, someone has to take command, and that someone will be Netanyahu.” However, back in 2010, then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israeli military to go to the highest level of alert in anticipation of attacking Iran, but the military refused, which some have said amounted to a military coup. So it remains unclear if Bibi will have the ability to wage an all-out strike on Iran.

But Bibi does have some strong tailwinds for confronting Iran, as Iran is now particularly vulnerable on the international stage: the nuclear deal talks with Iran appears to have all but disintegrated; Iran faces significant unrest challenging the legitimacy of the regime; Iran has planned to strike Saudi Arabia; Iran has threatened Saudi Arabiaover its funding of anti-regime coverage of the protests in Iran; and Iran has admitted to providing Russia with drones (while Iran says that these were only provided before the war with Ukraine, Ukraine says that Iran is lying). Bibi can use these developments to his advantage to gain support for continued Israeli sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program and military footprint throughout the Middle East.

Abraham Accords. Saudi Arabia normalizing relations with Israel remains the grand prize, and Bibi has pledged to achieve a deal between the two countries. Bibi could potentially use Iran’s increased threats to Saudi Arabia as leverage to bring it into the Abraham Accords, or at least into the Joint Middle East Air Defense (MEAD). MEAD is an envisioned strategic partnership between Israel, the U.A.E., Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar that Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz had thought would be brokered during President Biden’s trip to the Middle East, but that never materialized. But the Biden administration could remain the spoiler on any of this, given its history of anti-Saudi rhetoric and its fair-weathered support of Saudi Arabia against Iran and its proxies the Houthis.

The existing pieces of the Abraham Accords are set to remain on track under Bibi. Granted, the UAE had expressed concern that Bibi partnering with the far right in his coalition could endanger the Abraham Accords. But this is likely bluster, given the extensive Israeli-UAE economic ties that have already formed since the Trump administration, mutual grievances about Iran, and past unrealized statements from the UAE and others that they would wait to make peace with Israel until there was Israeli-Palestinian peace. Additionally, Bahrain called Bibi’s victory in the election “normal and always expected” and pledged to continue its partnership with Israel, which is reassuring.

Collision course with the United States? Bibi could be on a collision course with the United States, given various policies that the Biden administration continues to pursue despite them being in direct opposition to Israel’s core national interests. These include:

The “two-state solution.” Following the election, Secretary of State Antony Blinken re-affirmed US support for a two state solution, which is not in Bibi’s or Israel’s interest. However, there may be some room for Bibi and Biden to work together, given the Biden administration being “deeply disappointed” with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ public remarks disparaging the US’ role in, and favoring Russia over the US in Middle East diplomacy.

Jerusalem. A probable point of contention between Israel and the United States will be Jerusalem. It is unlikely that the Biden administration will support Israel’s sovereign rights in Jerusalem, given the Biden administration’s past meetings with the Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem, and its support for a Jerusalem consulate for the Palestinians. Also key will be to what extent the Biden administration turns a blind eye to Israeli Arab and Palestinian incitement of violence against Jews in Jerusalem. For example, Mansour Abbas, MK and head of the Islamist Ra’am party, stated in a veiled threat to Bibi that allowing Jews to pray on the Temple Mount “will lead to war,” echoing Hamas talking points.

Bibi has stated that he will maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount. However, Religious Zionist MK Itamar Ben Gvir, who is expected to join Bibi’s coalition, wants to be public security minister in the new government. If Bibi grants this, Ben Gvir would have enforcement authority over Jewish rights to visit the Temple Mount. Ben Gvir wants to assert such rights, but Palestinians and Arab-Israelis have long claimed that this violates the status quo. It is likely the Biden administration will view an increased presence of Jews praying on the Temple Mount as more of a provocation than as part of an equitable solution.

Other issues. Additional issues that would potentially cause a rift between Israel and the United States include additional payments to the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, and pressure against Israeli building in the so-called “settlements” of Judea and Samaria.

Conclusion

Bibi’s third term as prime minister of Israel will be marked with a ratcheting up of Israel’s clandestine war against Iran, although it is unclear if this will culminate in an overt strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Bibi will also likely strengthen the Abraham Accords, and hopefully, should the Biden administration not get in the way, sign either a defense or full normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia. Lastly, there will likely be revived contention between the United States and Israel on key issues of Israeli national sovereignty and security, including the issues of a two-state solution, Jerusalem, settlements and more.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic 

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DEVELOPING: Israel at War, Iran launches missiles

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THIS STORY IS DEVELOPING 

Iran launched dozens of drones and missiles at Israel Saturday, as tensions mount across the globe at the escalating crisis in the Middle East.  Missiles are currently traveling toward Israel as I put this story together and the situation on the ground in the region remains extremely fluid.

Iranian missiles were intercepted over Jerusalem using Israel’s Iron Dome system. In video posted to X, the missiles can be seen clearly over Israel’s Knesset building. Iranian Missiles were also intercepted over the Kotel and Temple Mount, according to Israeli government reports and citizen video.

Israeli citizens and visitors are preparing for the strikes and continuously monitoring the media in the early morning hours in Jerusalem, sources told me. According to U.S. and Israeli military officials the cruise missiles are traveling at slow speeds and expected to reach Israeli territory within hours.

Officials told reporters the missiles could take hours to reach their targets in Israel, however, Israeli military officials and the United States military assets in the region are prepared to intercept them.

President Joe Biden, along with senior officials in his team, have promised to back Israel during this very delicate time. However, reports from CNN  that Biden was going to make an announcement to the nation were unfounded when White House officials stated Saturday afternoon that Biden would not be speaking.

However, it’s the Biden administration’s failure to renew sanctions against Iran’s military and Iran’s continuing oil sales that have emboldened the cult like regime to target Israel on a massive scale, stated one U.S. official.

Here’s my most recent interview with former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, on Biden’s failure to hold Iran accountable and the administration’s actions toward Israel, which I believe emboldened Iran to target our greatest ally.

Friedman said during the Sara Carter Show podcast last week,  the Biden administration’s policy in the Middle East is a complete failure “from start to finish.”

“Look, they, they destroyed America’s credibility generally, which is always kind of the key ingredients to any advancements in the Middle East, because people, you know, in the Middle East are very different than America, you can’t, you can’t talk your way into peace, you can’t talk your way into normalization, you have to, you have to demonstrate that, you know, you bring to the table, a certain strength, a strength, both both a physical strength in a in a in a sense of conviction, where people trust you and, you know, in some respects, they fear you,”  he added.

“And, you know, from the day we left Afghanistan, that was just out the window completely,” he told me. “So people, I don’t think people understand how the withdrawal from Afghanistan set the stage for everything that went wrong after that, in terms of foreign policy from, you know, the the Russian attack on Ukraine, to come US and Iran and it all started there.” 

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, posted on X Saturday, “Our ally Israel is under attack from Iran. America should back Israel to the hilt. Resolution where others waver is a hallmark of leadership among nations and men.”

He is absolutely right.

 

A former Israeli Defense Official told SaraACarter.com stated that the U.S. military succeeded in intercepting a missile that was launched from Iran. According to reports the United States and Great Britain have intercepted and taken down multiple missiles.

Officials working in Israel that spoke to SaraACarter.com said that the nation is preparing for the strike and concern is mounting because of the extraordinary nature of the strike. This is the first time Iran has launched missiles directly from its territory to Israel without the use of proxies, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Foreign Ambassadors and top diplomats in Israel received a message Saturday evening to remain on high alert and prepare for possible incoming strikes.

“Excellencies – you are aware, Iran has launched an aerial attack on Israel,” the warning states. “It is highly advised to stay tonight near a shelter or a safe room and stay tuned to the developing situation. We will update as music as possible and are available for you.”

Fox News is reporting that any missiles flying over Jordanian air space will be shot down by either Jordanian and U.S. forces. However, U.S. Intelligence officials are warning that Iran may be planning on a multi-faceted attack and the current missiles may only be one part of a much larger attack.

“What else do they have in the box, is Hezbollah,” said one U.S. official. “We could see other attacks coming from various other proxies in the region – so Israel has to be monitoring all possibilities. This does open the door for Israel to actually launch a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities as well – which makes one wonder, why begs the question, why did Iran choose to launch from its territory?”

 

 

Since last week, tensions in the Middle East have remained on high alert. U.S. Intelligence agencies have been closely monitoring what they deemed to be “credible” threats of an Iranian attack on Israel, following a strike on Iran’s Damascus consulate, where two top Iranian IRGC Generals were killed.

In response to the perceived threat, the U.S. is bolstering its presence in the region, deploying “additional assets” to bolster regional deterrence efforts and enhance force protection for U.S. forces, according to a U.S. defense official speaking to Fox News. National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby reiterated the seriousness of the situation, emphasizing the U.S.’s commitment to closely monitoring the potential threat posed by Iran.

The evolving situation has prompted U.S. CENTCOM Gen. Michael Kurilla to visit Israel, where he met with top military officials to assess military preparedness amidst growing concerns over Iranian retaliation. However, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder refrained from speculating on specific threats from Iran, even as Tehran continues to promise action.

The State Department has issued new travel advisories for Israel, warning of potential terrorist attacks in major cities. Meanwhile, Iran has signaled its intent to respond to the attack on its consulate, albeit in a manner aimed at avoiding major escalation.

Amidst the uncertainty, experts weigh in on the potential ramifications of Iranian retaliation. Gen. Jack Keane of the Institute for the Study of War (IFSW) predicts an eventual attack, citing Iran’s desire to avoid escalation while exerting psychological pressure. However, Keane underscores the strength of Israel and the West’s leverage, suggesting a firm response to Iranian aggression.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, echoes concerns over the potential fallout from Iranian retaliation, highlighting the risks of escalation for Tehran. Taleblu emphasizes Iran’s strategic challenges in orchestrating an effective response, suggesting that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei faces a pivotal moment in his leadership.

As tensions simmer in the region, the U.S. and its allies brace for potential escalation, mindful of the delicate balance of power and the stakes involved in any confrontation with Iran. Amidst the uncertainty, one thing remains clear: the Middle East remains a powder keg, with the potential for conflict looming large on the horizon.

Alexander Carter Contributed to this report.

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