Thu 30 Nov 2023 2:42 pm - Jerusalem Time

Analysis: Why Israel Won’t Change

In an analysis by Israeli pollster Dalia Sheindlin, published by the American magazine Foreign Affairs on Thursday, the expert says that “from the moment Hamas breached the Israeli security fence with the Gaza Strip on October 7 and began its attack, it seemed as if Israel would not return to what it was.” It never was, and within hours, Israelis were forced to confront the reality that many of the assumptions that had long guided Israeli policy toward the Palestinians had collapsed.

“The state’s policy of blockading Gaza for 16 years has failed to make them safe. Instead, the government calculates that it can lure Hamas toward pragmatism – whether by allowing Qatari funding for Hamas or by granting work permits to workers in Gaza –

  Israel has been tempted into complacency.. The belief that most of the threats posed by Hamas can be neutralized through high-tech surveillance, deep underground barriers, and the Iron Dome missile defense system has proven completely wrong."

On a broader level, according to the analysis, “the attacks demonstrated the abject failure of the idea that the Palestinian political issue can be marginalized indefinitely without any cost to Israel, which is an intuitive belief among the Israeli leadership to the point that commentators found names for it: conflict management, or “reducing the size of the conflict.” Consequently, there have been no Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on a final status peace agreement for years, even as Israel sought normalization with a growing number of Arab countries. “For more than two decades, the right-wing parties dominating the Israeli political scene have promised voters that the country was safer than it was.” It would be under any other policy, and the majority of voters agreed to that. But on October 7, a Hamas attack led to the collapse of the status quo.”

The analysis reviewed a number of assumptions that were considered no longer true for the Israelis, such as: the failure of the Gaza siege policy, the belief that most threats can be neutralized through high-tech surveillance and deep underground barriers, and even the failure of the missile defense system.

Fighters of the Islamic Resistance Movement "Hamas" were able to penetrate the barrier, and after unprecedented attacks, they kidnapped more than 240 hostages, including about 100 Israeli soldiers, and transferred them to the Gaza Strip, before reaching a humanitarian truce with Israel, according to which it was agreed to the release of 50 women and children hostages in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners, most of whom are women and children.

The analysis reiterates that over the past two decades, the right-wing parties that dominate the Israeli political scene promised voters that the country had become safer, but on October 7th “the status quo collapsed.”

He continues that despite blaming Israel's leaders for "catastrophic security" failures, “their right-wing political orientation is unlikely to budge,” as Israeli history over the past decades shows that “episodes of war or extreme violence only serve to reinforce the rightward tilt in Israeli politics,” which means “the election of a new government in which voters endorse false assumptions, the same thing that contributed to causing the current crisis.

The analysis reviewed the times of voter support for the Israeli right, which began when the right-wing Likud Party was elected for the first time in 1977, which came after the aftermath of the 1973 war, and the conflicts during the 1980s helped strengthen the continued presence of the Israeli right.

“The catastrophic mismanagement that led to the war may prevent Israeli voters from making what would otherwise be a reverse slide toward a more theocratic, anti-democratic, and irredeemable right,” according to the analysis.

In the 1990s, despite the passage of quieter times and the rise of the left, by the end of the decade and the beginning of the millennium and the occurrence of the Intifada, the positions of Israelis began to return to the right more, and by 2011 more than half of Jews described themselves as right-wing.

The author of the analysis believes that the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue in his position during the current crisis, but even if he is forced to leave it, Israel will not take a different ideological path, as opinion polls in Israel show a flow to the National Unity Party led by Benny Gantz, which is unlikely it will deviate from the current right-wing approach to the Palestinian issue.


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Analysis: Why Israel Won’t Change