Iran wants to make it impossible for Saudi Arabia to strike deal with Israel, while others in region cannot afford mayhem in Gaza

Israel and Hamas at war – live updates

As the death toll rises, and the security consequences multiply, Israel is pointing its finger of accusation at Tehran for orchestrating the attacks by Hamas. The attacks may have been born of anger, specifically at the months-long behaviour of the Netanyahu coalition, including the provocations at al-Aqsa mosque, but Iran and the forces it supports have a longer-term strategic goal: to thwart the US-led effort to achieve a normalisation of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, a move that would entrench the US in the Middle East – and in Iran’s eyes deprive the Palestinians of their last influential sponsor.

Iran’s goal is to denormalise the region, and make it near-impossible for Saudi Arabia to strike a deal. Israel, by contrast, wants to shrink the Palestinian conflict diplomatically so it gradually becomes an irrelevance, a historical curio such as the Yom Kippur war. The aid it drip-feeds to Gaza via Qatar is one leg of this strategy.

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