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What Benjamin Netanyahu hernia surgery and UN Security resolution means for US-Israel relations

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If this scenario materialises, it could help restore confidence in Israeli-US relations. But out of power, Netanyahu would face trial on charges of bribery and fraud. What’s more, it’s hard to imagine a world where, this far down the line, Netanyahu would be willing to open himself up to any risks on his power.

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The second option, if Netanyahu chooses to defy the resolution, may come with some short-term personal political reprieve, but comes at the risk of the Biden administration taking tougher action. This includes a potential limitation in the supply of weapons to Israel in the long term, which won’t win him any support from voters, namely because this would weaken Israel’s standing vis-a-vis its adversaries in the region, most importantly the Islamic Republic of Iran, which Netanyahu has elevated as an existential threat to the Jewish state.

Though neither option is personally easy for Netanyahu, he could do a lot of good if he accepted the ceasefire and secured the release of the hostages. But this would require putting the people who elected him above himself, which is something we’re yet to see him do. Meanwhile, at 74 years old, he is hardly young. On Saturday, his office announced the prime minister will undergo a hernia operation, less than a year after being fitted with a pacemaker. Seventeen years in power has taken a heavy toll, and Netanyahu is not in the best health to lead Israel any longer.

All this does not mean that the path to Israeli political stability and a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be smooth. But it could avert a crisis in relations with the US and break the deadlock that has hampered any meaningful move towards a resolution of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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The US has had an unwavering commitment to the wellbeing and security of Israel. Its direct aid-in-grant and indirect military and financial assistance, including that embedded in the US-Israeli strategic partnership projects since the late 1950s, have been crucial for Israel’s growth as an economically and industrially prosperous and militarily powerful state in the region. It has also played a key role in enabling Israel to maintain its occupation of the Palestinian lands and the Syrian Golan Heights.

The US holds more sway with Israel than any other nation. Allowing the resolution to pass was a good start in flexing its power, but for meaningful change to occur, it needs to keep going.

Amin Saikal is an author, emeritus professor of Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies at the Australian National University, and adjunct professor of social sciences at the University of Western Australia.

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