Sat 02 Dec 2023 8:47 am - Jerusalem Time

The Gaza war postpones the explosion of Israeli internal disputes

“Together we win.” Under this slogan, the Israeli occupation state has united internally in the war of annihilation it is waging against the Gaza Strip, driven by the desire for revenge, after it has been afflicted since the beginning of this year by internal disputes and an unprecedented state of polarization before the war, against the backdrop of the judicial legislation plan led by the government, aimed at undermining the judiciary, against the backdrop of the conscription law and other laws.

But this resonant slogan, which also prompted the “Official Camp” party led by Benny Gantz to join an emergency government last October, does not hide the internal differences, whether within the occupation government itself or in Israeli society, which have resurfaced in various forms, including: He is tied to the war at the moment.

It is difficult to say with certainty at the present time about the direction in which the war is heading, which is linked to internal and external calculations, especially since after more than 50 days, Israel has not achieved “major achievements” according to its concept, even if it claims that.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of the military and security establishments are looking to achieve what they offer to the Israelis, after the great failure that led to the results of the “Al-Aqsa Flood”, and a lifeline that reduces the burden of the “Day of Judgment” that follows the war, and investigation committees that may topple the heads of the government while another resigned before it.

Netanyahu is trying to postpone all of this by prolonging the war, especially since he does not have a clear vision for the next stage, except for repeating the slogan of eliminating the Hamas movement and stripping it of its military and authoritarian capabilities.

The longer the war lasts, the more internal disputes will come to the surface, and the level of internal support for the war may decline significantly, especially after the temporary truce, which ended yesterday morning, Friday, and making the issue of Israeli detainees a priority, as a result of pressure from their families and the popular pressure that accompanied that. While it seemed before that the priority was bombing and revenge, even at the cost of killing Israelis, this was indicated by the positions of prominent figures in the government.

The differences became clear during a session in the Israeli Knesset last November 20, when the death penalty law for Palestinian resistance members was discussed, while the families of the detainees begged the members of the session to stop the law and remove it from the agenda in light of the presence of their relatives in Gaza. The families found people responding to them from within the government that they were not the custodians of pain.

Confrontations occurred in the first days of the war between those demanding the overthrow of Netanyahu and others who defended him.

Before that, confrontations took place in the first days of the war between demonstrators who demanded the ouster of Netanyahu and the return of detainees in Gaza, and others who came out in defense of Netanyahu. In recent days, the Israelis have experienced the "euphoria" of recovering dozens of their detainees in Gaza through a deal with Hamas, which may increase internal pressure to recover them all and affect the course of the war. This is what opponents of the truces warned about, especially since this may affect the decline in popular support for continuing the war in its current form, in addition to giving the Palestinian resistance some time to reorganize its cards.

The slogan "Together we win" may not tempt the Israelis for a long time, despite their interaction with it so far, especially since large segments of Israeli society, especially the families of those killed last October 7, hold Netanyahu and his government responsible for the failure and the outcome of the situation. In recent days, Netanyahu met with representatives of the settlements and towns that were damaged during the war, but a number of their residents refused to meet with him, and to this day they demand that he visit those places and meet their residents, not their representatives.

Despite the ban on demonstrations in Israel during the war, even those demanding an end to the war and the return of detainees, some of them were organized, even in the first days after October 7, and included among their slogans a demand for Netanyahu’s resignation. These votes are likely to rise in the coming periods.

The Israeli voice demanding an end to the war is still relatively faint, but it is likely to grow, as the continuation of the bloody process of revenge depends on several factors, including the ability of Israeli society to bear the consequences of a long war, the abandonment of Israelis from their normal lives, work, and movement, and the ability of the residents of the border towns displaced from the north and the areas surrounding the Gaza Strip. Gazans were forced to remain outside their towns, in addition to the huge losses that befell the economy in its various facilities, which led to the demobilization of a large number of reserve soldiers after their recruitment at the beginning of the war.

Among the factors that may contribute to a decline in internal support for the war is the count of more soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip, after the occupation army suffered huge losses, and the military and political leadership repeatedly affirmed that the price being paid in Gaza is high. This could lead to a clash with those who support continuing the war at any cost.

Israel is at a crossroads

The Israeli occupation state stands at a crossroads, and internal disputes may worsen when it will most likely have to choose between two of its priority goals. It is the one that set the goal of eliminating the Hamas movement, before that retreated to robbing the movement of its military and authoritarian capabilities and the goal of restoring all detainees.

Two parallel lines that do not meet, in the opinion of many observers, despite the insistence of parties in the government and the army that directing more violent strikes against the resistance contributes to the recovery of more Israeli detainees, while others demand a comprehensive deal that brings back all Israelis, even if the price is “all for all.” That is, in exchange for whitewashing the prisons and Israel releasing all Palestinian prisoners, which is opposed by leaders in the government.

The "Jewish Power" party, led by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, announced that he would not agree to any proposal of this kind if it happened, noting that he had recently threatened to resign from the government if Israel stopped the war. Members of the "Religious Zionism" party announced during interviews with the Israeli media in recent days that this matter is rejected and that it is not on the table at all, nor is there any talk about a comprehensive deal.

The end of the war will likely lead to new elections for the Knesset, which is what neither Netanyahu nor his coalition partners want at the current stage, especially since the results of opinion polls conducted since the beginning of the war indicate the popular collapse of the government and its parties.

Israel in a state of schizophrenia

In an article published on the Wallah website last Wednesday, Israeli journalist and commentator Nir Phoenix described Israel, in light of some internal disputes, as living in a state of schizophrenia and searching for a solution.

In this context, he pointed out that “(Israeli) public opinion may wish for the release of more kidnapped persons, and at the same time dream of eliminating Hamas, but the moment of truth for the government is approaching, as the two goals of the war are on a collision course and the problem does not lie in the statements of the country's leaders, but in the degree of public confidence in their statements."

Near Phoenix: Two war aims are on a collision course

He added, "If public opinion in Israel sat on the psychiatrist's couch, it would be very likely that we would be referred to psychological treatment that would include some proven medications. It is enough to look at our fears, to understand that we are not at peace with ourselves."

Phoenix considered that Israel was unable to determine the priority between the two matters and that "the inability to make decisions indicates a real division in opinions between different perceptions. Thus, Israel transferred the decision to the enemy so that he could decide for it."

He added: "Another fact that has been reflected since October 7 is that we have become more Jewish than democratic, and each one of us must think whether this is good or bad for the Jews."

The writer pointed out that there is a crisis of confidence between all poles of the security-political leadership, including Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Minister in the War Council Benny Gantz, Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy, and among senior officers and others.

He asked: “Is our confidence in the Israeli leadership lacking to this degree? Is the crisis of confidence between the people and the leadership of the political and military levels combined so serious? If not, why is an entire country convinced that a hole in the form of a magic deal stipulates the exchange of kidnapped persons for prisoners, within the framework of a ceasefire?” Are you completely under our feet?

Phoenix believed that experience taught the Israelis that the decision will ultimately be in the hands of one person, and that the chief of staff in the end is a person who wears a military uniform but is subject to the political level, and that the Minister of Security is essentially invisible to the prime minister, while Gantz proved “in Previous times, "there is no evasion on the part of Netanyahu that does not fool him, meaning that the key to the decision is in the hands of the prime minister."

He also considered that the lack of trust in Netanyahu has also become widespread among his voters and supporters of his coalition, and even among the right-wingers, “they do not trust him and are certain that he is hiding behind his back a deal that includes American funds for Israel, Qatari funds for Gaza, and normalization with Saudi Arabia as a comprehensive deal.”

He continued: "Netanyahu may know something about the inability to win the war in the way that Israel is waiting for, and perhaps he believes that it cannot withstand in the long term in the absence of international support."

But at the same time, the writer considered that the responsibility does not fall on Netanyahu alone, as the members of the Mini-Ministerial Council for Political and Security Affairs (Cabinet), including Netanyahu, tried to claim that the war could be fought in order to achieve the two important goals of the Israelis together.

Phoenix expressed his belief that giving preference to renewed fighting does not necessarily reduce the possibilities of rescuing the detainees in any way, whether through combat or through negotiations.

On the other hand, he saw that reaching a comprehensive deal (all for all), in addition to an Israeli commitment and international guarantees for a ceasefire, as demanded by the Hamas movement, would completely eliminate the second goal, which is eliminating the movement, and therefore it is necessary to choose between them and decide.

Aluf Ben: Netanyahu must make his decisions regarding the next phase of the war

Haaretz newspaper editor-in-chief, Aluf Benn, agreed in an article he wrote on Wednesday that Netanyahu will have to make his decisions regarding the next phase of the war, also pointing out the impact this will have on the Israeli home front.

He pointed out that there is currently no internal pressure in Israel to stop the war or reach a settlement with Hamas, and if that happens, it will be confronted forcefully by the police and the Public Prosecution.

Ben added that there are collision paths in the next stage that may affect the internal situation, including Israel’s failure to discuss the next stage despite persistent American demands.

Among the collision paths he mentioned is that any retreat by Netanyahu from his statements rejecting the return of the Palestinian Authority to the Gaza Strip will bring him into conflict with some of the leaders of his government, especially Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Ben Gvir.

What Ben says may coincide with recent reports that the US administration views Smotrich and Ben Gvir as obstructive factors in the government. However, the American administration adopted this position on them before the war, based on several previous events and positions, including those related to their role in fueling settlers’ hostile actions against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, promoting settlement, and other issues.

Anger in border settlements

Another issue that may fuel internal Israeli disputes, in addition to the above, is the condition of the settlements and border towns, whether adjacent to the Gaza Strip or close to the Lebanese border. The residents of these areas are living an unknown fate until now, as they have remained outside their areas for about two months, while demands for solutions are escalating.

The anger of the heads of local authorities in those towns became clear recently, during their meetings with representatives of the government and the army, especially in the north, demanding the removal of the Lebanese Hezbollah from the borders, and threatening that the residents would not return before that. The lives of many displaced Israelis, whether from the south or the north, were disrupted, waiting for solutions that did not come, while their patience ran out.

Source: Alaraby Aljadeed


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The Gaza war postpones the explosion of Israeli internal disputes