It’s strategic malpractice for the White House to give Israel carte blanche when he knows it could drag the US into a wider conflict.

by Trita Parsi, Responsible Statecraft

Hamas’ horrific attacks last weekend and the subsequent Israeli bombings of Gaza have put the entire world on edge.

Beyond concerns for the fate of the 2.2 million Palestinians trapped in Gaza with nowhere to flee, there is also a palpable fear that the conflict will escalate into a region-wide war. None of the main actors — with the possible exception of Hamas — want or benefit from such a war, yet all sides are acting in a manner that increases its risk by the day.

There is little to suggest that Israel or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seek to widen the war. The chaos in Israel and his government’s failure to not only prevent the attack but also manage its aftermath defies the idea that he was preparing or yearning for a larger war. Israel would indeed find itself in a precarious situation if it ends up in a two-front war with Hezbollah attacking Israel from the north.

soldiers in israeli on a training mission

There is also nothing to suggest that Hezbollah desires a war with Israel either, despite the Wall Street Journal reporting that Hamas had coordinated the attack with Hezbollah and Iran. Hamas alone attacked Israel, and there was no simultaneous or subsequent large-scale attack from the north. Given Lebanon’s dire economic situation — it is in its fourth year of a deep economic and political crisis, with inflation at 350% and 42% of the total population facing acute food insecurity — war with Israel would risk bringing the entire nation to a breaking point.

Similarly, there is no evidence that Tehran would benefit from a larger war. As a European diplomat put it to me, “Iran prefers a low-intensity conflict with Israel, not open warfare.” The regime in Tehran has just survived one of the greatest challenges to its rule and appears relieved that the anniversary of the killing of Mahsa Amini did not reignite these protests on a large scale.

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