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Iran and Israel: An Inevitable Collision under Dire (Yet Avoidable) Circumstances

A response from Iran to the assassination of a senior member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria seems almost inevitable, yet Israel's decision to exact a toll from Iran stands as a judicious move. A direct confrontation between Israel and Iran appears to be only a matter of time, unavoidable in light of the Iranian subversive approach. Even if Tehran did not plot the October 7 assault, Israel’s strategic conundrum unmistakably signals Iranian fingerprints in ideation and orchestration. The Iranian proxy network enables significant harm to Israel, far from Iranian frontiers, all while incurring negligible repercussions for Iran. Nonetheless, Israel might have approached this juncture more advantageously.

Israel's Harsh Dilemma

Iranian soldier and a missile

Ultimately, Israel cannot evade the harsh strategic dilemma  it faces in the conflict with Iran.

To effectively counter Iran over the long run, Israel must strive to forge regional alliances, aiming to establish a counterbalance to the Iranian axis, with paramount importance placed on sustaining strategic coordination with the US and NATO. However, the formation of such alliances necessitates Israeli concessions in the Palestinian domain. Conversely, these concessions may also pose a considerable security threat to Israel. Any territory under Palestinian control could become a launchpad for attacks against Israel, as evidenced on October 7. While permanent military control over the Gaza Strip might yield a more secure environment for Israel, it would concurrently isolate the country in its struggle against Iran and its allies.

The Discord with America is a Threat

Regardless, the events of the past week serve as a poignant reminder of the critical and irreplaceable nature of U.S. support for Israel. Since President Biden issued his stern “don’t” warning to Iran and Hezbollah, the relationship between Israel and the U.S. has seen increasing tension. The images coming out from Gaza further diminishes Israel's international standing.

It must be candidly acknowledged that any Israeli government would face intense international scrutiny at this war juncture. The conduct of the conflict with Hamas could hardly be envisioned differently, given the strategic snare Hamas has set. The ensuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, strategically beneficial for Hamas, was by design. The fraught relations with the current administration are also understandable under these war conditions.

Nevertheless, the Israeli government might have navigated the political pressures more adeptly. Through its actions, inactions, or a notable absence of diplomatic acumen, the present government has escalated tensions with the U.S. to an unnecessary zenith. This escalation is further exacerbated by the government's current composition. The fact that Ben Gvir is a member of the Cabinet, for instance, confirms Kissinger’s assertion that “Israel has no foreign policy, only domestic politics.”. This is particularly problematic in dealing with Iran, where the obliteration of the State of Israel is pursued with an existential fervor, to the detriment of the Iranian populace's welfare. This suggests that in matters concerning Israel, Tehran has no domestic policy, but only  a foreign one, at the expense of domestic welfare.

In such an existential confrontation, where Iran deprioritizes domestic challenges, and Israel seemingly eschews foreign policy considerations, the strategic advantage tilts towards Iran.


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