With the Implosion of Israel’s Labor Party, Expect April’s Elections to Be about Personalities

A recent poll of Israeli voters’ preferences for the April 9 elections shows the once-dominant Labor party getting only six Knesset seats (out of 120). But the newly formed Israel Resilience party, led by the former IDF chief-of-staff Benny Gantz, could emerge as a serious contender against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud, especially if it can draw in other centrist parties. Noting that such polls, while of questionable predictive value, can often shape voters’ perceptions and intentions, David Horovitz tries to make sense of Israel’s potential apparent political realignment:

The dismal poll showings of Labor and [the far-left] Meretz underline the collapse of the left as this election campaign gets going in earnest. Labor, [under its new leader Avi Gabbay], does not claim that peace is there to be made if only Israel would stretch out a warmer hand than Netanyahu’s. So if Labor doesn’t believe it can make peace, plenty of former Labor voters are apparently concluding, who needs it? . . .

While Israeli political infighting is vicious, ideological differences have narrowed. Everybody would love peace; very few people believe it is attainable. This is not 1999, when then-incumbent Prime Minister Netanyahu told Israelis there was no chance of a historic accord with the Palestinians, and [the Labor leader] Ehud Barak ousted him because he convinced enough voters—wrongly, as it turned out—that there was [such a chance].

Ultimately, this election is unlikely to be a battle over left and right—no matter how hard Likud tries to make it so by depicting Gantz as a weak man of the left. It will rather be a choice of personalities—between a vastly experienced prime minister, widely respected for having protected Israel from without, and a neophyte ex-army chief arguing that this same prime minister is tearing Israel apart from within. Or between an incumbent who warns of a bleak future without him in a treacherous region, and a contender promising that, for all the very real threats, things can be a great deal better.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics, Labor Party, Peace Process

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict