War Without End
Netanyahu this week insisted the war in Gaza will continue until Hamas is destroyed. Beyond rhetoric, Bibi has yet to set out a clear path for realizing that end. Safe havens for civilians in Gaza have shrunk and the scope for IDF maneuver has narrowed. Reflecting both the military and the international political situation, Israel has been withdrawing soldiers from Gaz, not adding to them.
If there is no clarity for how the war should continue, there is even less clarity for how it should end. That would require a post-war plan for reconstruction and governance in Gaza involving hard decisions Netanyahu wishes to avoid, particularly as his coalition partners call for permanent Palestinian displacement and Israeli settlement. The only way for Bibi to maintain his deeply unpopular government is to avoid decisions about peace and prolong the war—a war for which there are severe costs but no clear way to achieve benefits.
The war has brought a polarization in Arab-Jewish relations within Israel—a situation the Netanyahu government is working to aggravate. In the Partners for Progressive Israel sponsored Conversations with Israel-Palestine webinar on February 1, featured speakers Mohammad Darawshe and Noa Sattath described rushed Knesset legislation and discriminatory police action designed to intimidate Israeli Palestinian citizens and stifle domestic criticism of the government. Nevertheless, work in support of shared society continues and will become more important as Israelis realize that the military alone will not be sufficient to restore security.