Israel’s Government Might Not Collapse, but Israelis Will Still Pay the Price of Paralysis

The Knesset member Idit Silman announced on Sunday that she had no intention of returning to her place in the government, thus leaving the legislature split evenly between those who are part of the ruling coalition—led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid—and those who are in the opposition. After seeking to explain the motivations behind Silman’s defection, Haviv Rettig Gur details the likely consequences:

The political system has entered—or re-entered—a period of uncertainty. But one thing is not uncertain. The current government, if it survives, will be unable to muster parliamentary majorities for any significant initiative. Reforms or major budgetary decisions are all frozen now. The paralysis of 2019-2021 is back.

Perhaps it was inevitable. . . . But there are real costs to that paralysis. . . . A major, urgently needed billion-shekel package of financial aid for small businesses hurt by pandemic closures hangs in the legislative balance, as does a new pension framework for the army, a minimum-wage increase, and tax breaks for working parents. The largest-ever transportation spending bill, a dramatic upgrade to the country’s rail networks, now sits on the Knesset docket waiting to move forward. A revised ḥaredi draft bill that would release more young ḥaredi men from their study obligations and allow them to join the workforce at a younger age will be frozen.

So it goes for a dozen more major initiatives, most of them supported as wholeheartedly by Likud as by Labor and [the hard-left] Meretz, but now headed for a political deep freeze.

Politics isn’t a sport. . . . It is, first and foremost, the management of the people’s business—and that business will once again not get done.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli politics, Knesset, Naftali Bennett

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy