Israeli officials are expressing dismay at the Iran and Saudi Arabia peace deal which was announced from Beijing last Friday, with an aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling reporters that it’s the result of American “weakness” as well as failings of the prior Israeli government.
But the former Israeli leaders hurled the same accusation at Netanyahu, saying the new coalition government is to blame. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and current opposition head in the Knesset, also lamented that the Saudi-Iran deal signals the “collapse of the regional defence wall that we started building against Iran.”
Israel’s number one priority has long been to isolate Tehran as a regional power, especially because of Iranian entrenchment in Syria as well as its longtime support to Lebanese Hezbollah. Closer Israeli relations with Riyadh were toward that end, but now the China-brokered deal puts all of this into question.
The normalization deal is also being widely viewed as a humiliation for America’s waning influence and presence in the Middle East. After trillions spent and many thousands of US soldiers’ lives lost in Afghanistan and Iraq following two-decade-long occupations, China swoops in and plays peacemaker, growing its influence in the wake of Washington’s mess. Now US allies in the region, foremost among them Israel, find themselves in a weakened position and on the defensive.