The Rapid Collapse of Israel’s Center-Left

Since the beginning of the century, Israel’s once-dominant Labor party has faded from importance, only able to make itself viable through alliances with various parties of the political center or moderate right. Thus the past several elections have pitted the Likud and its right-wing allies against one form or another of the center-left. But recent polls have shown a precipitous decline in the proportion of Israelis willing to vote for a center-left party. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Over the course of twenty months, from April 2019 to December 2020, the number of seats won by Zionist parties that did not self-identify as “right” tumbled from 49 to 26, a 47-percent drop. [Looking more closely], on December 9, the center-left came to 39 seats in an average of several polls, while the “right without Likud” group polled at 45.6 seats on average. Just over two weeks later, on December 27, the center-left shrank more than six seats while the non-Likud right grew by ten. (The remaining seats may have come from Likud itself.)

It’s the appearance of a new party on the center-right, created by the former Likudnik Gideon Sa’ar, that might explain the most recent change, Gur writes. And there are also longer-term trends at play:

There’s a demographic reality that the Israeli left has yet to grapple with seriously, though it’s been known for decades. Israeli politics are tribal, with party allegiances usually dividing according to deep-seated cultural and religious differences, and the more left-leaning of those demographics are shrinking and growing older. [But this doesn’t explain] the evaporation in twenty short months of nearly half of the center-left electorate.

Put simply, center-left voters went to the anti-Netanyahu right.

The center-left has shrunk by almost half since April 2019, but it did so in ways that did not change the underlying deadlock. That is, those voters are still in the system, and still oppose Benjamin Netanyahu’s continued rule. Israel is now headed to a fourth election in two years. There’s growing evidence to suggest it may soon be headed to a fifth.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli Election 2021, Israeli left, Israeli politics

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