On Sunday night, two Israeli generals sat on stage to announce their new partnership. It feels like deja vu. Not long ago, Blue and White head Benny Gantz had a general partner, Gabi Ashkenazi. He now has a new guy – Gadi Eizenkot. Gantz and Ashkenazi also have a third partner in Yair Lapid, the head of Yesh Atid, an ordinary civilian. Gantz and Eizenkot have a third partner in New Hope’s head, Gideon Saar, an ordinary civilian.
The rest are about the same. Opinion polls show little movement. Voters didn’t show much excitement. Another day, another merger, another attempt to break the deadlock. If that’s interesting, it’s because of what’s missing from the debate and politicians’ deliberations: the question of Palestine.
Consider the new party. Its name cannot be translated into any remote full English. Mamlahti camp. It also doesn’t make much sense in Hebrew. It’s not so much a term with a specific meaning as a coherent emotion. Never mind that; on the question of Palestine, the newly merged bloc of bipartisan and new entrants is one of split personalities. Eizenkot warns again and again from a possible glide to the reality of “a state.” His stance is, in part, “I support Israel’s withdrawal from parts of the West Bank” Newsword. Saar is a staunch hawk who opposes the two-state solution. When his now-incorporated party was formed, one of its stated goals was “to realize the natural and historical rights of the Jewish people in the land of Israel” – that is, to include Judea and Samaria.
Q: How come Eizenkot and Saar are in the same party? The answer is simple. They can join forces because the Palestinian issue is not a problem. It’s not on the agenda. It’s not on the table. So much so that two leaders with incompatible views can share a party and a platform, while at the same time disagreeing on key issues that were once all major parties.
Not long ago, we tested in an opinion poll what Israelis think the country needs to address the most. Most ranked “political challenges” first, followed by “cost of living”. There are some Israelis who see the “peace process” as their top priority, but few of them. Therefore, this challenge is low in the first priority ranking and even lower in the combined ranking of all preferences. That is, because for most Israelis, the “peace process” is not just “not the first priority,” but is pushed to the very bottom, last, or second to last (the list includes nine possible ranking challenge).
The leader of another fictitious party, the newly formed Zionist spirit, focuses its attention on the Eizenkot agenda: the party, minister Ayelet Shaked says, supports the two-state solution and therefore cannot be a real right-wing politics Homeland. Shaked is fighting for her political career, and she is the leader of the party that doesn’t seem to have enough votes to cross the electoral threshold. She will try to portray the Gantz-Etzenkot party as “leftist”. Alas, Thrall stood in her way, along with some other right-wing allies, such as Minister Zeev Elkin. So, the truth is that the Mamlahti camp is neither left nor right on the question of Palestine, incoherent. These are two contradictory ideas. That’s the point: it is possible to have two views on an issue only if the issue is not important. If one leader of a party prefers green and another leader prefers purple, voters are not bothered. Likewise, voters did not appear to be bothered by the fact that one leader was against settlements while the other supported them. You say potatoes, I say potatoes. any.
Palestinians are not going anywhere, and the challenge of dealing with them is one of the most complex and deadly for Israel’s future.
This is both persuasive and dangerous. On the one hand, it shows the extent to which the question of Palestine has been marginalized as a wedge issue for the Israelis. They may disagree with the long-term goal, but agree that the short-term prospect of a meaningful breakthrough is nonexistent, and see no reason to debate or focus on the issue. On the other hand, this is the head of the sand position. The Palestinians are not going anywhere, and the challenges of dealing with them are among the most complex and deadly for Israel’s future. Some may dare to say: This is more indicative of whether Netanyahu stays or goes. But clearly, this is not the current position of most Israeli voters.
something i wrote in hebrew
Following last week’s Operation Daybreak in Gaza, I wrote: Israel is doing the work in the interests of Hamas. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s worth mentioning. It is worth mentioning that the interests of Israel and Hamas in the context of Islamic Jihad are quite similar. Hamas wants to control Gaza, Israel wants Hamas to control Gaza. On the one hand, if it wants Hamas to rule, why is it doing this work for them? Israel could have told Hamas to quell Islamic jihad or suffer the consequences. On the other hand, perhaps if Israel does some work for Hamas, its leaders will also find it easier to make some demands and see a positive response.
the number of the week
What do Israelis vote for? See the column above, and these new numbers from the IDI survey.
A reader’s response:
Shira Golhorn wrote: “When I read in your column that the Israelis no longer care about the lives of the Palestinians, I despair.” Dear Shira, this is an ongoing conflict of violence, on our side and the enemy one side. Of course, the enemy side includes many kind and innocent people. Such is the tragedy of war: it is not easy to always think about the well-being of the enemy.
Shmuel Rosner is the senior political editor. For more analysis on Israel and international politics, visit Rosner’s Domain at jewishjournal.com/rosnersdomain.