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bp iran israel Photo by Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images

An Iran-Israel War?

Last Saturday night, Iran launched a major missile attack on Israel in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike that killed several military commanders at Iran’s consulate in Damascus. While the vast majority of the more than 300 drones and missiles were shot down by Israel and its partners – primarily the United States but also the United Kingdom and Jordan – the attack represented a grave escalation between the regional foes, raising fears of a broader Middle East conflagration.

Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab, however, sees a possible silver lining: “Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel could generate an equally unprecedented breakthrough for peace in the Middle East.” The first step must be for the United Nations Security Council to “pass a binding resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and across the region.”

The next step, argues former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, is widespread international recognition of Palestinian statehood, with all the “legitimacy, leverage, and bargaining power” that this implies. Internationally recognized statehood would open the way for a “political solution that satisfies legitimate Palestinian aspirations,” which is in Israel’s own interest, as it seeks to exorcise the “specter of terrorism.”

It is also in Israel’s interest to end its war in Gaza quickly, explains Dennis Ross, a former director of policy planning at the US State Department. Israel is already close to achieving the only strategic objective that matters – demilitarizing Gaza and setting the stage for an alternative to rule by Hamas – and continuing the war will almost certainly weaken support for Israel, including in the US. And, as Iran’s recent attack demonstrated anything, Israel needs the US.

But having the US on its side may not be enough. Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer notes that Iran’s strike on Israel highlights the growing willingness and ability of new and emerging powers to challenge the West. In any transition away from the US-led world order, Iran’s theocratic regime may well be “among the big winners.”

Featured in this Big Picture

  1. Daoud KuttabDaoud Kuttab
  2. Gareth EvansGareth Evans
  3. Dennis RossDennis Ross
  4. Joschka FischerJoschka Fischer

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