Making Sense of Israel’s New Center-Left Party

Last Wednesday, Israel’s Labor party, led by Isaac Herzog, and the centrist Hatnua, led by Tzipi Livni, agreed to merge. Conventional wisdom holds that Hatnua gains much from this deal, and Labor next to nothing. Not so, argues Haviv Rettig Gur; Labor’s greatest competition comes not from the right but from the center, which Herzog has chosen to co-opt:

Herzog has spent months crafting a new electoral strategy for the Labor party that aims to pull the center away from Netanyahu. The Labor leader has largely abandoned the left-wing rhetoric about reconciliation and peace, and argues for the simpler and more widely supported idea of separation. Without the two-state solution, he tells Israelis in speeches and media interviews, Israel will remain entangled in Palestinian affairs—and in Palestinian political dysfunction and extremism. Now Herzog is solidifying that strategy, and made a dramatic show on Wednesday of sacrificing his personal ambitions for the benefit of the cause.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Hatnua, Isaac Herzog, Israeli politics, Labor Party, Tzipi Livni

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy