This is just a short follow-up to my post yesterday with a few predictions.
First about Netanyahu’s future. Prior to Hamas’ attack over the weekend, much discussion about Israel focused on the right-wing Netanyahu government, his continuing corruption trial, and his efforts to reduce the power of Israel’s courts. For those who oppose Netanyahu, they fear he will emerge from this crisis strengthened.
There are reasons to expect this. Hamas’ attack could create a rally round the flag effect that benefits Netanyahu, just as support for George W. Bush increased after the 9/11 attacks. And Netanyahu has come to power in the past through frustration with insecurity.
This time I think it will be different. Netanyahu was never incredibly popular, but people supported him as he promised stability and security. He’s failed. I expect to find out the Netanyahu government was distracted by its own unwieldy coalition and his corruption trial, leading them to ignore warnings of a coming attack such as one reportedly issued by Egypt. He broke his bargain with the Israeli people, so to speak, and I doubt they will keep backing him. Indeed, I’m several several posts on Bluesky about Israelis’ frustration with Netanyahu.
The second involves current negotiations with Saudi Arabia. The United States is negotiating a defense pact with Saudi Arabia, with the expectation that Saudi Arabia would normalize relations with Israel in a manner similar to the Abraham Accords. Some believe this is doomed thanks to the attack. I’m not so sure. The willingness of several states to work with Israel without first resolving the Palestinian issue indicates they are downplaying its significance. They may now value ties with Israel above a principled stand on behalf of Palestinians. Saudi Arabia’s response was relatively moderate–especially compared to Qatar’s. So I expect them to still quietly work on normalization.