Last week’s events may have been a bridge too far for even the most staid observers of American politics: President Donald Trump’s dismissal of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, long seen as a moderating influence on the president was further compounded by his appointment of hawkish firebrand and one-time UN Ambassador John Bolton, an unpopular figure on the foreign affairs circuit, and one who is disliked by Democrats and even a number of Republicans. Bolton’s entrance and aggressive ideology will have significant impacts on Israeli domestic policy and the Middle East region more broadly.  Trump had already threatened to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement by May 12th unless what he views as its flaws are amended. Bolton’s appearance on the scene likely confirms the worst case scenario for those committed to maintaining the deal, and a seeming embrace of a far more militant foreign policy than what Trump had promised during his campaign and at the start of his presidency.

Given the dim manner in which he views the the Iran agreement, as well as his antipathy toward a  two-state solution, Bolton’s appointment has been greeted with approval by a number of right-wing politicians who share his nationalist worldview and skepticism toward Israeli-Palestinian partition. Yet his arrival may be creating a sense of anticipation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be unable or unwilling to fulfill. Netanyahu has so far maintained an interesting dichotomy of appearing ostensibly hawkish, willing to confront the possibility of an Iranian nuclear threat and thumbing his nose at the international community’s opposition to Israeli entrenchment beyond the Green Line. Reality, however, is far more complicated; for all of his heated rhetoric over the years regarding Iran’s nuclear program, he has taken few concrete actions in confronting the Iranian regime–although one could make the argument that fear of an imminent Israeli attack on Iranian facilities during President Barack Obama’s tenure pressured Western powers to press harder for concessions. Similarly, his policy in the West Bank is one of pandering to his base in words more than actions.

With Bolton’s ascendence to Trump’s inner circle, Israeli nationalists will inevitably look for signs that they have permission to dispense with the niceties of pretending to support the paradigm of two states, in preference for a solution that will mainly benefit Israel. It matters little that the administration, at least for the time being, has not changed its tune regarding the peace process, and is continuing to insist on presenting its version of a peace plan in the near future. Nor is there a guarantee that with Bolton now on board there will be a sudden or even gradual about-face that abandons these plans. But actions hardly matter to partisans in the conflict who will seek out any signal, no matter how obscure, in order to push ahead with their agenda.

Since Trump’s election, Israeli right-wing leaders have been tripping over themselves to declare the end of the two-state era, assuming that the incoming administration would give Jerusalem a free hand to build and annex as much land as it pleased. While it’s true that the president has refrained from engaging in the level of criticism similar to that under Obama, Netanyahu has, relatively speaking, been circumspect in matters relating to settlement expansion, and has warded off or ignored attempts at annexation. This is hardly coincidental; Netanyahu has never, despite his constant attempts to divide the electorate into opposing camps and his frequent pandering to far-right elements in society, embraced the latter’s desire to outright annex territory. He is willing to test the international community because it plays well with his base, and because he genuinely believes that Israel must chart its own course with sometimes unpopular decisions, irrespective of foreign reaction. But he also appears to understand that Israelis are loathe to pay the price that annexation would likely bring about.

Instead, he has maintained a delicate balance between declaring support for an eventual disengagement from the West Bank to please the international community and more moderate elements of Israeli society, while simultaneously winking at the settlers, a strategy that seems to have served him nearly his entire political career. Having a highly critical American president as a foil only served his interests, allowing him to paint himself as a victim of a superpower against whose wishes he could never deviate. Had Hillary Clinton triumphed in 2016, Netanyahu may have very well continued the same strategy of confrontation with the president as a means of staving off right wing demands for more radical policy.

But Trump’s unexpected victory complicated this arrangement. With an incoming president who seemed, ostensibly at least, enamored of Israel and less committed to hold the government to account for its eroding of democratic norms and reluctance to engage with the PLO in good faith, Netanyahu no longer had the shield of a disapproving administration with which to stave off his opponents from the right. The addition of Bolton to Trump’s team is only likely to exacerbate this problem.

There’s no reason, of course, to believe that Bolton’s appointment to such a sensitive and influential position will lead to a complete abandonment of the accepted paradigm that is currently being pursued. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is hardly a priority topping the administration’s list, and the danger presented by Bolton is (relatively) far from this particular theater. But the joy with which his appointment has been met within some quarters in the Israeli government nonetheless signifies a further emboldening of right-wing sentiment. Such a development is never a good sign, but it is especially problematic given the prime minister’s current legal predicament and his not-so-covert plan to find a path to new elections before an official indictment can be presented. His coalition partners are keenly aware of this, and may very well continue to push for these types of actions, knowing full well his inability to resist kowtowing to the most extreme members of his base in order to secure their votes in any hypothetical future election.

Perhaps less noticeable is how Bolton’s controversial reputation as a hawkish interventionist who seems to believe that military action is the salve for every international crisis might further affect Netanyahu’s own standing in the world. An unpopular figure among Democrats because of his acrimonious, eight-year long relationship with Obama (and, it should be noted, with President Bill Clinton two decades earlier), the prime minister has further cemented his unpopularity on the left with seemingly warm ties between him and the president. Bibi continues to be at the forefront of criticizing the Iran deal, viewing it as insufficient in keeping the Iranian regime in check, and pressing on both the U.S. and other signatories to up the pressure.

An embrace by a divisive figure like Bolton with a zero-sum worldview will do nothing to help Netanyahu’s already tarnished reputation as a yes-man for the GOP, and will by extension harm the state’s image by perpetuating the ever-harmful trope—however unfairly—of a country out of step with the internationally recognized consensus. Many in the international community have neither forgotten nor forgiven Bolton and Netanyahu’s support for the Iraq War and it’s likely that these facts have been taken into consideration when considering their views on the Iran agreement. It goes without saying that a Netanyahu portrayed as irresponsibly egging on an already skeptical president and national security adviser present a scenario with less than ideal optics.

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