Photo Credit: Gili Yaari/Flash90
Yair Lapid,

Jerusalem, August 23– Israel’s caretaker prime minister voiced private concerns today that too much time will elapse between the brief operation he authorized over the weekend against Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the country’s upcoming parliamentary contest, which will not take place until November, dissipating any potential political boost his party would otherwise enjoy.

Yair Lapid expressed his worries Thursday following consultations with other members of his Yesh Atid Party, at present one of the largest factions in the Knesset but facing poll numbers that do not portend a victory that will give him the premiership again. Prior to Operation Breaking Dawn, which decapitated PIJ’s military leadership in the Gaza Strip – and coming on the heels of the arrest of the organization’s leader in Jenin, in the West Bank – numerous surveys foresaw either a stalemate or a narrow advantage for the rival group of parties under the stewardship of former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu now serves as Opposition Leader; his Likud Party holds a commanding lead over all others in polling but still falls far short of an outright parliamentary majority of 61. The most favorable polls then saw Likud garnering fewer than 40 seats; Yesh Atid hovered closer to 25.

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While Netanyahu was in office, multiple rounds of fighting with the Islamist movements of Gaza – which include PIJ and the larger organization Hamas, which effectively controls the territory, as well as several smaller militias – combined with frequent election cycles, elicited accusations from numerous analysts that the premier pursued conflict as a political campaign tactic to position himself as a robust defender of Israeli interests and as tough on terrorism. The same analysts have neglected to issue that accusation against Lapid, and his left-wing coalition partners including dovish Meretz, center-left Labor, and Arab Ra’am – have remained silent, in contrast to their rhetoric when Netanyahu led identical operations. Those factions issued no whisper of public protest last week; no accusations of mass murder; no claims of Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians of Gaza. Such verbal restraint from those quarters seldom featured when Netanyahu held the same office. That reticence frustrated Mr. Lapid, he acknowledged, since he had counted on the operation to boost his numbers among undecided voters; the silence of his partners and the sympathetic media challenges his efforts to link himself to the operation in the minds of potential voters.

The phenomenon has parallels in the way US Democratic administrations have reacted to Israeli operations to suppress terrorism. While Barack Obama and Netanyahu held office, such operations prompted presidential calls to “avoid escalation,” whereas with Joe Biden and Yair Lapid in their respective offices, the White House has offered only support for the Israeli operation. However, both the time from now until elections and Israelis’ lukewarm opinion of Biden will attenuate any impact of such support on voters come November.

Foreign media outlets, however, maintained their reflexive cynicism of Israeli policies, producing “analysis” that Lapid had the elections in mind when planning Operation Breaking Dawn.

{Reposted from the SATIRIC website, PreOccupied Territory}

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