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Why Iran Won't Save Netanyahu

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Israelis of most political stripes can agree on the core threat Iran poses to Israel. No one truly wishes to see a nuclear-armed Iran whose leaders regularly advocate razing Israeli cities to the ground. Even those who are critical of Israel’s double standard as a nuclear state itself, surely don’t support more nuclear-armed states in the region.

Similarly, Iranian support for Hamas, Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad is bad for Israel and for Palestine, no matter where you stand politically. Just as America’s massive military support perpetuates Israeli occupation, Iranian armament of Palestinian and Lebanese factions seduces both sides into the irresistible pull of military strategies, rather than diplomacy.

It is no apologia for the occupation to acknowledge that each fresh war in the region threatens hundreds of thousands of civilian lives, wreaks social destruction and hacks away at the cadaver of a peace process.

Finally, there is Iran’s ultra-hardline leader, Ebrahim Raisi. Though he is subordinate to the real decisionmaker, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Raisi’s words matter. His recent comments to 60 Minutes interviewer Leslie Stahl to "allow" historical research into what he called "some signs" that the Holocaust actually happened place him either in the same loony bin as anti-vaxxers who insist on doing their "own research," or else he is signaling an iron wall against any softening of Iran’s stance towards Israel.

Despite the gravity of these challenges, Israel’s political debate about Iran – made more visceral during an election campaign – is a mess. The public conversation on Iran has been hijacked by Benjamin Netanyahu, and he alone defines its boundaries, despite the catastrophic failure of both his policy and its power to sway voters on the campaign trail.

Iran has been embedded in Netanyahu’s political DNA from his political beginnings, but it became a centerpiece of his agenda from his return to power in 2009. For the next few years Netanyahu hammered away at the issue of Iran, clearly conveying that it was the only worthy topic in the region, rather than the petty Palestinians.

The strategy failed by his own measure. Despite mad-dog preparation for a military strike and Israel’s relentless opposition to the compromises required in diplomacy, the Western powers marched towards a deal.

The policy also failed Netanyahu on the campaign trail. As........

© Haaretz

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