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The “cockfight” between irrationality and pragmatism on the regional political-diplomatic stage, and consequently, on the local scene, is in full swing. Regrettably, for decades, it has been the Lebanese, Palestinian and even Israeli populations who have borne the brunt of this ongoing struggle.

This race against time between political maneuvers and military ventures, unfolding here and there, resurfaced prominently with recent sharply articulated positions on both sides. In the past few days, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and high-ranking officials from Hamas have openly reiterated their opposition to the internationally endorsed two-state solution, supported by the international community and Arab countries.

The Netanyahu cabinet and Hamas thus confirm their tacit alliance on a path deemed irrational. This alignment is not new and dates back to the 1990s when the Israeli right, spearheaded by Netanyahu, allegedly provided crucial support to the jihadist organization to undermine the Palestinian Authority and thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state during the Oslo Accords process. Nearly three decades later, both parties find themselves in the same obstructionist camp, each playing the warmonger in their unique way. Strikingly, neither side presents any alternative for a sustainable political settlement. This point was aptly emphasized just this Monday by the European diplomatic chief, Josep Borrell.

The perpetual posturing of these two tacit allies within a volatile region, fostering an atmosphere of enduring conflict without a discernible resolution, is glaringly evident in the current context. Hamas military leaders assert their determination to persist in the fight in Gaza, while Netanyahu, more emphatically than ever, brandishes the specter of a full-scale war against Hezbollah. This, in all likelihood, serves as a desperate attempt to divert attention from the deep-seated internal political and governmental crisis he faces, one that poses a significant risk to his political career.

In the pursuit of a “victory” to somehow mitigate the current stalemate of the Israeli army in Gaza, the Israeli Prime Minister calls for the Hezbollah militia to be pushed north of the Litani River, in adherence with UN Security Council Resolution 1701. However, in the absence of a pragmatic political solution to the Middle Eastern conflict, there is no assurance that the pro-Iranian party won’t revive what it initiated after the 1701 vote in 2006. This involves a subtle, gradual and insidious redeployment of its militants near the Israeli border, allowing Iran to exploit the South Lebanon card at its convenience for its strategic interests.

In anticipation of a potential comprehensive deal between Tehran and Washington – a strategic goal for Iran to secure recognition as a regional power – the situation of “neither war nor peace” is the ideal option for the Islamic Republic. This allows Iran to manipulate its regional proxies, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthi rebels in Yemen and the “Popular Mobilization” in Iraq, according to its own agenda. These steadfast allies are remotely controlled by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), without necessarily escalating into total and widespread confrontation with Israel or the United States. This is evident in the activation of tension points, sometimes in the Red Sea, sometimes in the West Bank, consistently in South Lebanon, not to mention attacks against American positions in Iraq and Syria, which reflects a calculated orchestration led by the IRGC.

In the strictly Lebanese context, the danger of this balancing act, in the absence of a comprehensive solution, lies in the potential for Hezbollah to once again concentrate on the local stage, akin to its post-2006 war strategy. This could involve political escalation, attempts to dismantle the existing system, fervent rhetoric and provocations, negotiations to secure constitutional gains, increased encroachment on state structures, and the use of intimidation and threats (potentially followed by action) to impose a fait accompli and practices conflicting with Lebanon’s historical specificities and purpose.

In the absence of a robust package deal between Washington and Tehran, inclusive of Israel and Arab countries, the remotely controlled flashpoints orchestrated by the Pasdaran will persist. Faced with the disruptive capabilities of the Iranian proxy in Lebanon, a (very) significant challenge must be urgently addressed by sovereign parties and advocates of the “Lebanon First” slogan: present a united and diverse front that transcends partisan divides, sectarian allegiances, outdated personal egos and narrow, reductionist calculations. This is crucial to thwart Hezbollah’s repeated attempts to distort the pluralistic, liberal and humanistic face of the Cedar’s country.