At Last, Israel Has a Government—and That’s What Matters Most

After over a year of political stalemate, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political rival, Benny Gantz, have signed a coalition agreement, saving Israel from a fourth election in less than two years. The new government will be supported by about 70 of the 120 members of the Knesset, which might bring stability not found in razor-thin majorities. According to the terms of the agreement, Netanyahu will hold onto the premiership for eighteen months, after which Gantz will have his turn. Shmuel Rosner comments on the other details:

[Gantz] agreed that Netanyahu could initiate annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria in the early summer. . . . Netanyahu wants [annexation], but also understand that there are risks involved. He will not make a final decision until the actual time comes. If circumstances allow—the coronavirus crisis, relations with the Trump administration, and other factors—Israel might be on track to annex parts of the West Bank.

The debate concerning the legal system and its responsibilities was one of the main stumbling blocks during the [most recent] round of negotiations. Within Likud there are people who believe that the time has come for reforming this system. [Gantz took the opposite position.] Ultimately, the parties reached a compromise for a simple reason: Netanyahu never made the fight against the court his highest priority. In fact, for many years he was one of the most conservative leaders within Likud when it comes to the court. Similarly, Gantz is not fully convinced that all of the complaints against the legal system are completely off the mark. This was more a fight over pretense than content.

But, Rosner concludes, the most important outcome is that Israel won’t have a fourth election, and will get a much-needed reprieve from political chaos.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli Election 2020, Israeli politics, Likud


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security