Israel’s Political Hopefuls Understand What Won’t Work, But Don’t Know What Will

At a recent televised debate among candidates for re-election to the Knesset, the participants astutely identified the problems with their interlocutors’ positions. But when it came to the crucial issue of relations with the Palestinians, none was able to present a convincing solution. To Haviv Rettig Gur, who served as the one non-politician on the panel, the lack of ideas stems from “a broader national bewilderment”:

A majority of Israelis want to separate from the Palestinians. A majority—who overlap a great deal with the previous group—also believe an Israeli withdrawal is unlikely to deliver safety. And so, in a sense, everyone is right.

Hilik Bar [of the Zionist Camp party] insisted that Palestinian independence would increase, not decrease, the political window for an Israeli military response to any post-withdrawal attacks. Ayelet Shaked [of Jewish Home] calmly pointed out that the Gaza situation didn’t quite work out that way.

Shaked insisted the country could “manage the conflict,” leading Yaakov Peri [of Yesh Atid] to retort that instead the conflict was “managing” the country, holding an outsized role in setting the national agenda. . . .

At the end of the day, after a long string of failed peace talks, Israelis no longer believe in the policy narratives of the past. They do not believe peace is attainable in the near term, or that annexation might resolve the fundamental questions of the conflict. And neither, it seems, do the candidates in this election.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza withdrawal, Israeli politics, Knesset, Palestinians


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy