On the eve of Israel’s election, Gaza is the problem nobody wants to talk about

Israeli soldiers keep guard in Jordan Valley, the eastern-most part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank that borders Jordan. (Reuters)
Updated 12 September 2019

On the eve of Israel’s election, Gaza is the problem nobody wants to talk about

  • Many observers agree that the most likely target of any future aggression from the Israeli government will be the West Bank, not the Gaza Strip, capitalizing on the support of US President Donald Trump’s administration

GAZA CITY: With less than a week to go until the Israeli general election on Sept. 17, competition is intensifying between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the Blue and White alliance led by Benny Gantz.
Compared with previous elections, however, the situation in Gaza has been considerably less prominent during campaigning and in the manifestos of all Israeli parties.
Palestinians in Gaza, meanwhile, pay little attention to the outcome of general elections, given that they see little significant difference between the parties’ positions on future relations with the Strip.
Adnan Abu Amer, an expert on Israeli affairs, said both Likud and Blue and White largely ignore the Gaza “problem,” except when their leaders exchange accusations of blame for the continued deterioration of the situation there. Some parties do not talk about Gaza at all, while others highlight the problems without offering any serious solutions.
Amer added that any solutions the politicians do suggest are old options, which often ignore the reality of the presence of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which has a population of 2 million people.
Israeli writer Tani Goldstein, who has researched the policies of Israeli parties on Gaza, said it is a very frustrating issue for them. The persistence of the Hamas regime, the firing of rockets into Israel, and the frequent rounds of escalated tensions and fighting mean the Strip is one of their biggest headaches.
Goldstein, who published the results of his research on The Times of Israel website, said an examination of the policies on Gaza reveals that Israeli parties fail to offer any practical alternatives to existing policies they attack, while some suggest vague, ill-defined solutions with no clear indication of how they could be implemented and others simply ignore Gaza.
Human rights researcher Mustafa Ibrahim said that the manifestos also lack any mention of the “two-state solution,” suggesting the Israeli parties are largely ignoring not only Gaza but all Palestinian-related issues. He added that in speeches, the leaders of Israeli parties only mention Gaza in an attempt to win votes through threats and intimidation.

HIGHLIGHT

Palestinians in Gaza pay little attention to the outcome of general elections, given that they see little significant difference between the parties’ positions on future relations with the Strip.

Amer, Goldstein and Ibrahim agree that Gaza represents a “permanent headache” for the Israeli parties, and it is one for which they have no realistic remedy.
Ibrahim said that should Netanyahu win the election, he might push for support of Egyptian efforts to reach a long-term truce with Hamas, including a prisoner-exchange deal.
Gantz might do the same if he is victorious, as part of a “containment policy,” unless there is a dramatic development that pushes Israelis and Palestinians toward war.
Former prisoner Fayez Abu Shammala, who follows Israeli affairs, said that there is little difference between Likud and the Blue and White alliance in their views on Gaza, other than the details of how they want the problem resolved: Likud wants to isolate and strangle the territory, while Blue and White wants Hamas removed and the Palestinian Authority regain control.
Shammala ruled out any possibility of a war in Gaza following the election, on the basis that military and security chiefs in Israel have learned the lessons of previous conflicts, which were devastating and failed to achieve the desired objectives from an Israeli perspective.
Many observers agree that the most likely target of any future aggression from the Israeli government will be the West Bank, not the Gaza Strip, capitalizing on the support of US President Donald Trump’s administration. This would expand Israeli sovereignty and to all intents and purposes eliminate any hope of a “two-state solution.”


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 19 min 14 sec ago

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLOW

  • Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.
  • Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.
  • Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.