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.
“There was a feeling of US and Israeli weakness and this is why the Saudis started looking for new avenues. It was clear that this was going to happen,” the unnamed senior official said while traveling in Netanyahu’s entourage in Rome, according to Axios.
Axios reported further, “The senior Israeli official who briefed reporters said the Israeli government is not concerned that the new Saudi-Iranian agreement will hamper the efforts to achieve a breakthrough that could lead to the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”
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 defense wall that we started building against Iran.”
“This is what happens when one deals with legal insanity all day instead of doing one’s job against Iran and strengthening relations with the United States,” Lapid said, commenting on the Netanyahu government’s judicial overhaul, and the chaos it has sparked in Israeli politics along with massive street protests.
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 Iran-Saudi deal signals a sharp increase in Beijing’s influence in a region where the U.S. has long been the dominant power broker, and could complicate efforts by the U.S. and Israel to strengthen a regional alliance to confront Tehran
https://t.co/3xFcOEVhYn via @WSJ
— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) March 10, 2023
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.