Hamas Takes Aim at a Crumbling Palestinian Authority

According to the most recent polls, more Palestinians would prefer to be ruled by Hamas than by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party. But perhaps the more interesting datum is that 44 percent of those surveyed do not think either group “best represents the Palestinian interest.” Shaul Bartal assesses the situation:

The largest party in Palestinian politics is an assortment of new local organizations such as the Lion’s Den and local battalions in Nablus, Jenin, and elsewhere in the West Bank. These local organizations do not see themselves as committed to a specific organization. What unites them is the war against Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is seen in the eyes of a large part of the Palestinian public as a corrupt governmental authority that colludes with Israel. The way to gain legitimacy among the public is through struggle and resistance. A whopping 58 percent of the public support a return to an armed intifada. [Therefore], it is little wonder that support for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is at an unprecedented low, with 74 percent of the Palestinian public believing the two-state solution is no longer a relevant option.

What is relevant? Violent resistance. Hamas is increasing its pressure on the West Bank and in Jerusalem. . . . At this stage, it appears that Hamas’s game plan is to destabilize the West Bank through increased violence, increase its popularity in that area in the process, and subsequently take control of the PA’s power centers. The continuation of this explosive situation may well lead to the disintegration of the PA and a different government situation that Israel will have to deal with in the West Bank.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian Authority, West Bank

 

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

More about: Houthis, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy