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Although US envoy Amos Hochstein’s visit to Lebanon didn’t bring progress, it somehow eased tensions in the south and kept escalation within the rules of engagement.

According to diplomatic sources, the parties’ ambiguous positions are attributed to the opacity surrounding the results of the upcoming US presidential election. The battle between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is “on a razor’s edge,” as the saying goes. Recent legal developments potentially condemning Trump have complicated his chances of winning, and a medical evaluation of Biden’s readiness and capacity to assume governance and responsibility for the nuclear dossier has also been requested.

The positions of Lebanese and regional parties originate from an ambiguous vision, expected to converge with the US presidential elections’ outcomes. This unfolds amidst Iran’s complex electoral dynamics and intense political strife over President Raisi’s post-presidential political options and agendas.

According to sources, Iran is reportedly eager to quickly reach an agreement with Biden, perceived as “weak”, before the elections in order to secure gains. This urgency stems from concerns about Trump potentially returning to reshape the balance of power and resume his campaign against Iran. Trump had earlier withdrawn from the 2018 nuclear deal, exerted pressures and imposed sanctions on Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, which effectively restrained its regional influence.

On the other hand, Israel, led by Benjamin Netanyahu and displeased with Biden’s policies, is holding off on its final stance and political decisions, awaiting the return of Trump, “the friend.” With Trump’s potential return, a shift in US regional policy and the adoption of new criteria are expected, which could reinvigorate US-Israeli relations after a period of tense relations.

However, the question remains: How can Biden strike a balance between the Jewish lobby, to secure the Jewish vote, while avoiding to upset Muslim and Arab voters who sympathize with the Palestinian cause and oppose the use of American weapons to kill Gaza’s children.

With these facts in mind, Hochstein is working to restore the pre-October 7 rules of engagement in south Lebanon, which were previously respected by both Israel and Hezbollah.

According to Israeli media reports, there is consensus inside Israel to resolve the situation in Lebanon diplomatically or militarily before September, thus ensuring security and stability necessary for residents to return to northern settlements, which has complicated Hochstein’s mission in Lebanon. Meanwhile, internal Israeli discord over the Gaza war influences Netanyahu’s response to Biden’s truce proposal.

Despite the parties’ ambiguity and reluctance to take stances, Israel fears Hezbollah may launch a Lebanese “October 7” attack from the south if a permanent ceasefire in Gaza is not reached.

Hassan Nasrallah’s recent statements indicate this inclination, with Hezbollah circles responding to Israel’s positions by asserting, “The war on Lebanon will not be easy for Israel; it will face resistance and incur losses.”

According to a Western diplomat, neither the US nor Iran has an incentive to reach a resolution in Lebanon at present, nor do they stand to benefit from war. All await the outcome of the White House race.

If Washington fails to promptly secure an agreement on a third candidate for the presidential election in Lebanon, a settlement of the crisis will be delayed until after the US presidential poll.

An opposition politician argues that “the presidential election is in limbo, while efforts to disassociate it from Gaza face significant hurdles, notably due to the Iranian stance embodied by Hezbollah’s unwavering endorsement of Sleiman Frangieh’s candidacy.

A Western diplomat acknowledges, “The army commander-in-chief remains a most likely candidate if an agreement on a third candidate fails.”

Both the US and Iran, opposed to war, must exert pressure to prevent it. According to diplomatic sources, security meetings between American and Iranian officials were held in Iraq, Doha, and Oman. Other security meetings also took place in Egypt and Israel. The situation in Lebanon was a key focus of the discussions.