What’s at Stake in Israel’s Elections

For the first time since 2000, writes Jonathan Spyer, a center-left coalition has a real chance of defeating the right in Israel’s elections. But Spyer contends that “national and diplomatic issues,” rather than social and economic ones, will determine the elections’ outcome, and on this score the center-left’s argument is troubling:

The center-left will argue that Israel’s problems are to a great extent of its own making, and that if there is a danger of extremism it is to be found largely among Israeli Jews, rather than among their neighbors. Thus, in her most memorable statement so far, [Tzipi] Livni recently told reporters that Israeli “extremists . . . are turning our country into an isolated, boxed-in country, and an alienating one—even for its own citizens.”

The belief underlying the Israeli center-left’s campaign is evidently that if Israel is “boxed in” it is because of its own “extremists” and that the solution to this is greater accommodation to the U.S. administration. The U.S. administration, however, has opposed or prevaricated over the key measures that Israel has found necessary to take against the threats gathering around it. . . . An Israeli government which believes that Israeli “isolation” is mainly Israel’s fault and which thinks that the solution to this is greater accommodation to the Obama administration is an Israeli government which will be less likely to act in Israel’s vital interests, at the right time and with sufficient determination.

Read more at Middle East Forum

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

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