Reaffirming the Ground Rules for the U.S.-Israel Alliance

Last week, Jake Sullivan, the American national security advisor, announced that he is planning a visit to the Jewish state in order to meet with members of the new governing coalition. Meir Ben-Shabbat, who served in the equivalent position in the Israeli government from 2017 to 2021, suggests how Jerusalem should approach the key issues apt to be on the table when Sullivan arrives.

The special relations between the two nations and the bipartisan support Israel enjoys in the U.S. [constitute] an overarching interest for Israel. However, Israel is a sovereign country that formulates its policies on its own accord and in view of the responsibility that history has given it as the state of the Jewish people and with the realization that the struggle continues over its existence, stature, and security.

A strong Israel is a boon for the U.S. in various aspects: security-wise, technology-wise, and economically. Israel will therefore continue to use its power to defend itself and will not allow its existence to be threatened. The U.S. should at the very least have our back.

As for domestic issues, Prime Minister Netanyahu should make it clear that Israel is a vibrant and young democracy that sorts things out on hot-button issues through the democratic process. There is no room for meddling and foreign influence by any side.

Iran will certainly be high on Benjamin Netanyahu’s list of concerns, and most likely on Sullivan’s as well. Ben-Shabbat observes:

Iran’s activities in the Ukraine war and the failure to revive the 2015 deal provide an opportunity [for the U.S.] to change [its] policy toward Tehran. Europe might be more receptive to this than before. It’s important to take note that it would be wrong to assume that this new approach will drag the U.S. into war. In fact, such a policy will reduce the risk of a war breaking out in the Middle East over Iran’s continued efforts to implement its vision.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, U.S.-Israel relationship

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas