Yossi Mekelberg

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A protester lifts a placard during a rally demanding the release of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas on 7 October, outside the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem on January 15, 2024. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

In the aftermath of 7 October, the common mantra in Israeli politics is that things can neither go back to how they were the previous day, nor should they. To a large extent this is correct, not only in terms of relations between Israelis and Palestinians, but also regarding the domestic scene in both societies.

However, the underlying predicaments remain the same, except that now they are more severe and need to be resolved more urgently. They must also be addressed in a far more challenging context, following the horrendous Hamas terrorist attack that has shredded Israel’s security strategy towards that Islamist movement, and in the midst of the gravest political, constitutional, and domestic crisis in Israel’s history.…  Seguir leyendo »

Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz at a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on October 28, 2023 (Photo by ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Before the war in Gaza, profound differences split Israel’s political system, demonstrated throughout the year by regular widespread protests against the government and a toxic social-political scene. However, following the shock and trauma of Hamas’s 7 October attacks, all division has been put on hold.

Some sort of unity has become a necessity, but it has also been an appropriate response while the country has buried more than 1,400 of its civilians and soldiers, killed on that ‘black sabbath’ and in the ensuing war.

If any nationwide political consensus now exists, it is that by the time the war is over, the premiership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should end.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman holds the hand of a wounded soldier arriving at the emergency entrance to the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv following the Hamas incursion. (Photo by Matan Golan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Almost to the day of the 50th anniversary of the traumatic Yom Kippur war, when Israel was caught by surprise on two fronts, its military establishment was once again taken completely off guard by a Hamas-coordinated land, sea and air attack.

Hamas launched thousands of rockets at Israel and infiltrated Israeli towns, villages and kibbutzes, massacring hundreds of civilians and soldiers and taking scores hostage, on what was supposed to be a joyous Jewish holiday.

This represents a massive security and intelligence failure which has led to one of the darkest days in the country’s history.

For years residents of the area bordering Gaza alerted Israel’s government of their security vulnerability, but to no avail.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesting against the Israeli government's controversial judicial reform bill in Haifa. Photo by JALAA MAREY/AFP via Getty Images.

For a long time, the silent majority in Israel was exactly that – completely inaudible, at least in public. This allowed an almost unbroken 18 years of Benjamin Netanyahu-led administrations to erode the democratic system and all but kill off any chance of peace with the Palestinians.

The consequences of this apathy are quickly catching up with Israeli society and, for the first time in the country’s history, hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life are taking to the streets to protest the latest Netanyahu government’s unscrupulous attempts at a judicial coup.

They are doing this with great passion and creativity, such as declaring ‘Resisting Dictatorship Day’.…  Seguir leyendo »

Palestinians gather at a site where buildings and houses were hit in Israeli air strikes in the northern Gaza Strip, May 2021. Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

It is imperative during a war to consider how to avoid immediate escalation of conflict while also figuring out how to resolve the conflict for good.

These ingredients are missing from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and most significantly from the confrontation between the Jewish state and Hamas in Gaza. In the past the world has witnessed the tragic ritual of tensions building up on the Gazan border, leading to the exchange of fire and ending in almost full-blown war.

Hamas’ cross-border rocket attacks on main city centres in Israel and the excessive retaliation by Israel through air and artillery bombardment have all the hallmarks of past hostilities that resulted in thousands of fatalities and devastation, especially among Palestinians.…  Seguir leyendo »

A defaced electoral poster for Israeli prime minister and candidate, Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Arab city of Kfar Qassem in central Israel, on 22 March 2021. Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images.

A fourth election in two years has yet again failed to produce a conclusive result. Some of the results form part of a consistent pattern, but there are also some unexpected twists that the pollsters had not foreseen which will prove crucial for the formation and composition of a coalition government.

Of the 13 parties that will serve in the Knesset, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party won 30 of the 120 seats up for grabs, followed by the centrist party Yesh Atid, led by Yair Lapid, which won 17 seats. There is also an array of smaller parties representing a range of interests, ideologies and sectors in Israeli society, from Jewish ultra-Orthodox to Islamist, from peace and human rights parties to the ultra-right xenophobic and homophobic Kahanist party.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israelis protest against Benjamin Netanyahu, who denies charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images.

After almost a year and a half - and three elections - Benjamin Netanyahu, the grand magician of Israeli politics, managed to pull off another of his tricks to mobilise a majority of MKs to support a coalition government he will lead, in theory, for only the next 18 months. Unless he is found guilty in the corruption trial he faces.

Significantly, his personal victory will be detrimental to the future of the country’s democracy, the justice system in particular, good governance, and whatever slim chance may remain of a peace process leading to a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Attributing Netanyahu’s success in forming a government to his vast experience, personal charm, unscrupulous manipulative nature, and limitless hunger for power provides only part of the answer.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli forces take at the gates of Al Aqsa Mosque. Photo: Getty Images.

Given the absence of a comprehensive and viable political solution between Israel and the Palestinians, and the complete lack of trust between the two sides, a large scale confrontation is more a matter of when and not if. The situation in Jerusalem is especially fragile – any interference with the long-standing status quo on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, especially one that is not coordinated with all interested sides, would lead to the eruption of violence in the city and well beyond.

So it was careless of Israel, in the wake of the shooting of two Israeli policemen by three Israeli Palestinian militants at the Lions’ Gate, to apply collective punishment on Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and to introduce metal detectors at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa mosque.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jerusalem woke up on Tuesday to horrific images of slain Jewish worshipers, and scores injured in a terror attack on a synagogue. The assault which took place in the western Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof, shocked Israel to the core, as well as many others around the world. This is not surprising considering both the brutality of the attack and the fact it was carried out in a holy place, where innocent religious people were worshiping.

The two assailants, cousins from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber, were shot dead by the Israeli security forces. The incident in addition to the ongoing violence since the beginning of summer, left the city of Jerusalem more divided than for a long time.…  Seguir leyendo »