A New Political Alliance Mounts a Credible Threat to Benjamin Netanyahu

Feb. 25 2019

Last Thursday, two major centrist Israeli political parties announced they would run as a joint list in the April 9 elections: the secular Yesh Atid party and the newly formed Israel Resilience, which serves as a vehicle for the candidacy of the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz. Polls show the new bloc, which calls itself Blue and White, garnering roughly the same number of votes as the incumbent Likud. Thus, writes Joshua Krasna, Blue and White poses a more serious challenge to Benjamin Netanyahu than anything seen from the moribund left and divided center in recent elections. But the current prime minister still has many advantages:

[I]t is important to note the decline of the left in Israeli politics. Labor, which as recently as 1992 had 44 seats in the Knesset (and 34 in 1996), had 19 seats in 2006, 13 in 2009, 15 in 2013, and 24 in 2015, after it joined with the remnants of the [now-defunct] Kadima under Tzipi Livni. The most optimistic predictions say it will win ten or eleven seats in the next Knesset. Meretz, the Zionist party to the left of Labor, which had a peak of twelve seats in 1992, has five seats in the current Knesset, and is expected to achieve a similar result in the next elections, if it doesn’t disappear entirely. . . . Why has this happened?

The perceived failure of the Oslo process, and of the unilateral withdrawals from Southern Lebanon (2000) and the Gaza Strip (2005), key policies of left- and center-led governments; the continued stalemate on the Palestinian issue (attributed by the majority of Israelis to a lack of a viable Palestinian partner, especially since the split in 2007 between the Gaza Strip under Hamas and the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority/Fatah); as well as demographics, have moved the midpoint of Israeli politics to the right. Centrist (or even right-of-center) parties like Yesh Atid and Resilience are delegitimized as “leftists”—a term of opprobrium in Israeli political discourse today: the actual left is largely seen as irrelevant. Recent internal developments in Labor seem to indicate that the party is shifting from seeing itself as a potential ruling party to a democratic-socialist “woke” opposition, which may explain the internal pressures to merge with Meretz on its left. . . .

To win, Netanyahu only needs his current coalition to do no worse than before in the aggregate; the election is his to lose. However, Netanyahu’s legal issues and increasingly polarizing political style, combined with possible loss of seats due to an inability of prospective coalition partners to pass the electoral threshold, may have opened a narrow path to victory for a “clean-hands,” rule-of-law candidate of the center-left.

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Read more at American Interest

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israel & Zionism, Israeli left, Israeli politics, Yair Lapid

The Palestinian Authority Is Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Jan. 31 2023

On Thursday, Palestinian Authority (PA) officials announced that they had ceased all security cooperation with Israel; the next two days saw two deadly terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. But the PA has in the past made numerous threats that it will sever its ties with the Israeli government, and has so far never made good on them. Efraim Inbar poses a different set of questions: does cooperation with Palestinian leaders who actively encourage—and provide financial incentives for—the murder of Jews really help Israel protect its citizens? And might there be a better alternative?

The PA leader Mahmoud Abbas seems unable to rule effectively, i.e., to maintain a modicum of law and order in the territories under his control. He lost Gaza to Hamas in 2007, and we now see the “Lebanonization” of the PA taking place in the West Bank: the emergence of myriad armed groups, with some displaying only limited loyalty to the PA, and others, especially the Islamists, trying to undermine the current regime.

[The PA’s] education system and media continue propagating tremendous hostility toward Jews while blaming Israel for all Palestinian problems. Security cooperation with Israel primarily concerns apprehending armed activists of the Islamist opposition, as the PA often turns a blind eye to terrorist activities against Israel. In short, Abbas and his coterie are part of the problem, not of the solution. Jerusalem should thus think twice about promoting efforts to preserve PA rule and prevent a descent into chaos while rejecting the reoccupation of the West Bank.

Chaos is indeed not a pleasant prospect. Chaos in the territories poses a security problem to Israel, but one that will be mitigated if the various Palestinian militias vying for influence compete with each other. A succession struggle following the death of Abbas could divert attention from fighting hated Israel and prevent coordination in the low-intensity conflict against it. In addition, anarchy in the territories may give Israel a freer hand in dealing with the terrorists.

Furthermore, chaos might ultimately yield positive results. The collapse of the PA will weaken the Palestinian national movement, which heretofore has been a source of endemic violence and is a recipe for regional instability in the future.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror