By David E. Kaplan
“What we don’t get done fast, won’t get done at all,” was the talk of the coalition builders – Messrs. Bennett, Lapid & Co. That was early May when Israelis were dropping into restaurants before they were dashing to bomb shelters.
Lapid and Bennett knew they must form a coalition government quickly – or not at all.
It was ‘not at all’.
They weren’t fast enough against what most lawyers are familiar from the Latin – novus actus interveniens (“new act intervening”) that disrupts a chain of causation.
That new act came literally ‘out of the blue’ descending from Israel’s cloudless blue summer sky when rockets from Gaza landed in the country’s capital – Jerusalem. The coalition efforts of Messrs. Bennett, Lapid & Co. were as much a target of the rockets from Gaza than any physical location as was quickly revealed when far more disruptive than the rubble in the capital was the political fallout – the disintegration of what would have been ISRAEL’S FIRST EVER ARAB JEWISH COALITION AGREEMENT, only several days away from signing. Whatever one’s political allegiance, this would have been monumental. It went up in a puff of proverbial smoke. A direct hit.
From Hamas and Iran’s vantage – the war – in terms of important ‘targets’ – was won on Day 1.
In the wake of a changing Middle East with Israel’s increasing regional acceptance and a country “to do business with” following the game-changing 2020 Abrahams Accords, Iran and Hamas were on the back foot. These developments were anathema to Gaza and Iran and the last thing they wanted would be to seal this deal of Israel’s increasing integration in the region was a political rapprochement between Jewish Zionist and Arab parties joining together in a coalition to form the next government of the Jewish state. This would have been an affirmation of gale force winds moving in a direction that horrified Hamas and Iran and had to be stopped at any cost!
An affirmation amounting to an abomination, Iran ordered and Hamas pulled the trigger.
So, in answer to those always quick to blame Israel:
Whose fingers were on the trigger initiating this 11-day war?
And when one examines the consequences, the Director of UNRWA, usually no friend of Israel admitted – to the outrage of Gazan citizens – that the IDF strikes were “precise”:
“So yes, they didn’t hit – with some exceptions – civilian targets.”
Exceptions not the rule unlike the Hamas rockets that were AIMED at Israel’s civilian population.
So, again, irrespective of one’s politics, can anyone argue that had an Arab party been part of a future Israeli government it would not have endeavoured to pursue the interests and needs of the Arab community in Israel as well as offering counsel on all issues pertaining to their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and Gaza?
Far more afraid of this than Israel’s intransient right wing was Hamas and Iran – hence the rockets. The pending evictions in Sheikh Jarrah over a property dispute between title owners and occupants of a few homes – although galvanizing passions in opposition – was a matter resting with the courts and not the causa belli. In legal matters, parties seek redress in the court, not commission hitmen!
In truth – it was the cover – to passionately inflame and justify the war.
It worked with the support of the international media.
And although Bennett would soon bolt, Abbas displayed grit and resilience. On the very day the rockets began – 10May – it was reported in the morning local media that despite the unrest in Jerusalem, the Islamist Ra’am party of Mansour Abbas was still expected to actively back a unity government led by Yamina chief Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, providing the key backing that the pair needed to build a coalition. In return, the emerging government would honor a list of Ra’am demands that would meet the needs as listed by Abbas of the Arab and Bedouin communities in Israel. By day’s end, the rockets and the ensuing unrest in Arab town and villages across Israel derailed the coalition as Bennett pulled out announcing that he was no longer willing to be part of a “change government” to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Poised to become Israel’s next prime minister in a “rotation” arrangement with current opposition leader Yair Lapid – Bennett nevertheless bolted!
The deal was always contingent on bringing an Israeli Arab party – Ra’am, led by Knesset Member Mansour Abbas – into the coalition and only days before, both Bennett and Abbas seemed ready to sign on the dotted line.
Then came the rocket war with Gaza and the brutal and bloody street fighting throughout Israel between Jewish and Arab extremists and Bennett telling reporters:
“I am removing the ‘change government’ from the agenda.”
Abbas on the other hand said:
“I am not giving up on future cooperation. It could be that these incidents emphasize the need for true partnership with understanding, initiating together.”
One positive note, President Biden said that contingent of US support for the rehabilitation of Gaza, any reconstruction aid would be provided in partnership with the Palestinian Authority and not with Hamas, which the United States labels a terrorist organization.
This is a powerful message to the international community and sound global leadership.
So who knows, maybe there will be more bolts out of the blue and not in the shape of rockets?
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