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Editor's Report: After Oct 7, the Israeli public could move more to the Right

by Rhonda Spivak, October 26, 2023

In 2005, when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon disengaged from Gaza, Israel destroyed the Gush Katif settlements and those in the northern Gaza Strip, uprooting some ten thousand Jewish settlers. He did so with the hope and belief that it would improve Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians of Gaza and most Israelis did not want to rule over it.  But when Gazan’s elected Hamas, a terror group that has never recognized Israel’s right to exist, it undercut the Left in Israel.
 
It should be remembered that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tried to convince the Bush administration that Hamas should be banned from running in the 2006 Palestinian elections in Gaza unless it disarmed and modified its rejectionist ideology to recognize Israel’s right to exist.  But Bush allowed Hamas to run without putting any conditions on Hamas, since he favoured “democracy” and figured Fatah (The P.L.O) would win, and was shocked when Hamas won. 
 
Hamas’s Oct 7 terror attacks and massacre of Israeli civilians, and hostage taking are likely to make Israelis feel more vulnerable and in my opinion, more right wing. This is what Amos Yadlin, former head of Israeli military intelligence, who is on the left of the spectrum has told Politico, in an article dated Oct 24. (Yadlin would agree to a two state solution as long as the Palestinian state was completely demilitarized)
 
After Hamas's massacre of Israelis in the South, it seems quite possible that Israelis will be less likely to be willing to risk giving up land for a two state scenario, notwithstanding that President Biden and France's Macron are saying that after the war is over, there must be renewed efforts to bring about a two state scenario.
 
There will be Israelis who will fear that Hamas, or other terror groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad  will take whatever future territory Israel were to agree to surrender on the West Bank, terrorize the Palestinians under their control as Hamas has done in Gaza, build underground tunnels in the West Bank, align with Iran and then seek a "final solution." 
 
Will Israelis be willing to give up, for example, the Jordan valley, which they see as Israel’s strategic and defensible border, preventing an attack from the east ? If anything, as I read it,  the events of Oct 7 will have taught Israelis that they can not rely only on technology and early warning systems alone, without having boots on the ground.This will mean having a continuous presence in the Jordan valley, which the Palestinians will not agree to, nor would Palestinians likely be willing to agree to have their state demilitarized. Note a Wall Street Journal report that weapons are being smuggled into the West Bank through Jordan and Israel could face another front in the war
 
Will  Israelis feel secure about a corridor/bridge connecting Gaza to the West Bank (Judea/Samaria), that would run through Israeli territory? The only way I can see Israel agreeing to a two state scenario is if Israel is forced to so by the United States, at some point in the future, possibly as part of a future Saudi-Israel normalization deal. 
 
In the Politico article, Yadlin was asked whether in his opinion, from an Israeli perspective, did what happened strenghen or weaken the case for a Palestinian state.
 
He answered, "Weaken, dramatically. By the way, I’m a supporter of a two-state solution, but with zero military presence in the Palestinian state, because I know what the Palestinians want to do. We went through decades of terror, and exactly what happened on Simchat Torah is making me — a security hawk and political dove — even more strict on security. This attack will move the Israeli public even more to the right. The right already blames Oslo and the Disengagement. And the idea that we can give the Palestinians the capability to build even security forces at the levels that the PA has — this will be very difficult now. The only reason that the polls are not showing a move to the right is Netanyahu, because Israelis blame Netanyahu, even on the right. But when Netanyahu departs, getting a two-state solution will become more difficult."
 
 
There is an article I want to point out in Israel's left-wing Ha'aretz newspaper by Chen Ma’anit, who is  a member of one of  left wing kibbutzim on the Gaza border, which indicates that his belief that “if only Israel were to pursue the Two-State solution Jews and Arabs would live in peace and harmony with each other” was smashed to pieces on October 7th. Accordingly Chen feels he has lost not only his physical home but also his intellectual and ideological home.
 
Although President Biden has been talking about  resuming efforts for a two state solution after the war, Barak Ravid has  written in Axios on Oct 26,  it's unclear whether the post-war political situation will allow for a peace process. He wrote, "The feeling of insecurity on the Israeli side and the rising number of casualties on the Palestinian side could undermine the parties' appetites for compromise." 
 
Having said all that,I do think it is possible that Israel will come under a lot of pressure both from the US and internationally after this war to stop building in the West Bank (Judea/Samaria), particularly in isolated settlements deep in the territory.  
 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.