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Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Israel-Hamas War May Have Left Both Sides Stronger Politically (Updated)

Jonathan Tobin asks a question about the recent war between Israel and Hamas that a few months would have been unthinkable: Did Hamas Win the Last War?.

The question arises in light of 2 developments following the ceasefire:
  • Gaza fishing craft were being allowed to sail further into the Mediterranean by the Israeli Navy

  • The news that Israel is now allowing in construction materials that it had heretofore prevented from entering Gaza
While the greater freedom of fishing boats and the relaxing of the Israeli ban on gravel and cement in light of the continued existence of Gazan tunnels have little or no military implication, Tobin notes:
At the time the cease-fire was arranged, both the Israelis and the Americans issued statements that were aimed at making it seem as if the shooting was ended with no concessions made by either side. But the looser naval blockade and the end of the ban on construction material gives the lie to the notion that Israel didn’t pay a ransom in order to get the Islamist terrorist group to stop shooting.
While this may very well be a victory for Hamas, there is another implication that, while weakening Netanyahu, may not be quite as beneficial to Hamas:
If Hamas really did win the last war, or at least didn’t lose it as Israel had claimed, it is understandable that there will be consequences from this that will affect Israeli policy as well as public opinion. It may be that Prime Minister Netanyahu had no choice but to accept the deal that called for these concessions if he was to stop the shooting. But these revelations help explain why so many Israelis have not only given up hope for peace with moderate Palestinians but are also prepared to vote for parties to Netanyahu’s right in this month’s Knesset election. [emphasis added]
More than making Netanyahu less willing to make unilateral concessions -- this time with even greater backing of the Israeli public -- there is likely to be a renewed push for acceptance of the Levy Report emphasizing Israel's rights to Judea and Samaria. This will be seen by Israelis not only as a response to Abbas's unilateral move in the UN, but also as a precaution against the increased influence of Hamas in the West Bank and the fear that it will replace the Palestinian Authority as it did in Gaza.

2013 may have the apparently contradictory result of both a politically stronger Hamas as well as a politically stronger Israel as well.

Addendum: Israel Matzav writes Poll: Plurality of Israelis (including Arabs) oppose a 'two-state solution', Jewish Home up to 18 mandates:
A new poll by Geocartography (link in Hebrew) shows that 45% of Israelis oppose the 'two-state solution,' while 40% favor it. The poll includes 'Israeli Arabs,' who make up about 20% of the population. 14% did not answer.

Meanwhile, Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home party - which is to the Right of the Likud - continues to surge and has now reached 18 mandates (link in Hebrew). Likud-Beiteinu goes to 35 mandates (compared to 42 in the current Knesset), Labor goes to 18 mandates, Shas weakens to 8 mandates, Yair Lapid weakens to 5 mandates.
Read the whole thing.


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