JERUSALEM, JAN. 24 -- Israel's emerging status as a close U.S. partner in the Persian Gulf War is changing the country's prospects in the likely postwar settling of accounts in the Middle East, officials and analysts from both countries say.

By accepting U.S. demands that Israel refrain from immediate retaliation for Iraqi missile strikes, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir is aiming at victory in what, for him, is a far more important battle: Israel's effort to hold on to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in any future reshaping of the region by a victorious U.S. alliance.

At the same time, the close wartime cooperation between Washington and Israel, including the stationing of Patriot missile batteries in the country manned in part by U.S. crews, is creating strong emotional and political bonds between the two states that may affect their negotiations after the war, analysts say.

While Israel's restraint has won it widespread praise in the United States and other Western countries and its losses have gained it sympathy, quick U.S. action to defend Israel from Scud missile attacks also has prompted a surge of Israeli friendship for America. That means that while the Bush administration may find it harder after the conflict to pressure Shamir's government for concessions on the Palestinian issue, Israeli leaders may similarly discover that any attempt to defy America will be unpopular at home.

"The last few days have been a watershed in the relationship between Israel and the Bush administration," said Harry Wall, director in Israel of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. When a peace process comes, he said, "it's going to be in an altogether different context" than that of the past two years.

"The United States is going to have a greater appreciation of the security problems Israel faces, and that is going to set an altogether different tone," Wall said. "And Israelis could have a much stronger sense of security from the United States because of the Patriot operation. If the Bush administration plays it right, that could translate into more influence here."

It is the postwar scenario that caused Shamir to insist within his government that Israel refrain from a counterattack on Iraq, sources said. For him, the chief threat of the gulf crisis by this month was that the U.S.-led alliance would turn after the war to the Palestinian problem, demanding that Israel return captured territory for a Palestinian homeland.

"Shamir was thinking about the long-term interest. There were a lot of apprehensions that after the war we were going to pay the price," a senior official said, and now, Shamir sees a chance "to be in a situation where not only will Israel not have to pay the price in a postwar settlement, but it will come out with the upper hand."

Policy planners here concede that the Bush administration is still unlikely to abandon its aim of advancing an Israeli-Arab peace process after the war, or to alter Washington's longstanding principle that Israel should surrender some or all of the occupied territories in a settlement of the Palestinian issue.

In time, some officials caution, U.S.-Israeli relations could again return to the low point they struck last year, when Secretary of State James A. Baker III angrily advised Shamir to call the White House "when you are serious about peace."

Still, Israeli officials and some seasoned observers here say that by saying yes to Washington this week, Shamir may have successfully laid the groundwork to forestall U.S. demands for concessions after the war. Apart from American gratitude, "the Iraqi missiles, with blood and smoke, clearly pave the way for the territorial claim that we need the occupied territories as a security belt when the enemy is so nearby," journalist Gideon Sammet wrote in the newspaper Haaretz.

Another indication of Israel's expectations from the United States as part of the new closeness is the $13 billion aid request made this week. U.S. officials turned aside similar requests last year for the aid, most of it for absorption of Soviet immigrants to Israel. However, the developments of the last week appeared to encourage Israel to believe the Bush administration will change its position.

Other analysts here say that, at the least, the Bush administration and Shamir's government are now more likely to work in concert in the postwar political process, focusing on areas where they agree progress is possible, such as arms control. Shamir said last month that Israel would be willing to enter a regional arms control process, and some officials in his government see such a project as a way of taking the first steps toward peace between Israel and Arab states.

U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Syria, officials here note, have responded to the Iraqi missile attacks on Israel by indicating publicly that they accept Israel's right to defend itself.

Even on the Palestinian issue, where the United States and Israel have been bitterly at odds during the last year, some analysts see grounds for a new start. Dore Gold, an authority on U.S.-Israeli relations at the Jaffee Center of Tel Aviv University, said U.S. perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process already appear to be changing in a way advantageous for Shamir's government.

First, Gold said, U.S. diplomats who once saw Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as the starting point to any peace process are now more prepared to accept the Israeli argument that they should be linked to simultaneous talks between Israel and the Arab states still at war with it. "Saddam Hussein has changed the Arab periphery around Israel from background noise to central focus," he said.

"The second change is the role of the PLO," Gold said. Last year, he noted, efforts by Baker to implement Shamir's plan for Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza broke down because of differences between the United States and Israel over the degree of Palestine Liberation Organization involvement in the process.

Now, he said, "I don't see the PLO having the same central position that existed previously. Because if the PLO is raised, you are going to have people in Washington taking out the pictures of {PLO leader} Yasser Arafat hugging Saddam Hussein. There is going to be a lot of impetus to look for an alternative Palestinian leadership."

What may complicate any new start is the intransigence some observers feel is built into Shamir's present government, dependent for support on far right-wing parties that oppose almost any peace process.

While Foreign Minister David Levy and other officials have stressed that Israel will need to have its own initiative ready for the postwar settlement, the government's agenda remains obscure. A policy planning team has been set up in Shamir's office, and Levy, a novice at Middle East diplomacy, has drawn up his own plan, which reportedly begins with the demand -- considered unlikely by most analysts -- that Arab states unilaterally declare an end to their state of belligerency with Israel.

Still, many officials say Shamir will in practice be unable to embrace or advance any peace plan, including his own in 1989, which called for Palestinian elections as a prelude to self-rule in the territories.

Science Minister Yuval Neeman, leader of the ultra-nationalist Tehiya Party, said in an interview this week that if Shamir tries again to propose Palestinian elections, "we will not go along with it." If it were to happen, he said, "it would have to be under a different government."