Danny Yatom, a former director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, said the about-face tarnished U.S. credibility in the region. “I think in the eyes of the Syrians and the Iranians, and the rivals of the United States, it was a signal of weakness, and credibility was deteriorated,” he said.

Now, as Iran and world powers move toward talks, Israel will likely be forced to watch from a distance for fear of being considered a spoiler. The U.S. has pledged to keep Israel updated on progress.

“There is no way that Israel could strike while the U.S. and Iran are engaging. That would be a disaster,” said Reuven Pedatzur, a prominent Israeli military affairs analyst. “Israel would only consider an attack if intelligence pointed to Iran being just a few weeks from having an actual bomb.”

Many analysts have long questioned whether Israel could realistically attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Such a mission would be extremely complicated, requiring long-distance flights and the refueling of warplanes above potentially hostile airspace. Iran also possesses sophisticated anti-aircraft systems, and its nuclear facilities are scattered throughout the country, in some places deep below ground, raising questions over how much damage Israel could inflict.