The war on Gaza produced multiple layers of disagreements within Israeli society. They did not stop at the conflict between the left and the right, or the opposition and the government, but rather expanded into deeper and clearer forms. The societal and political rift seemed to extend horizontally and vertically, bringing the disagreement to what looked like postulates about The value of Israeli land and people.
The Israeli Prime Minister tried Benjamin Netanyahu Only 4 days after the operation Al-Aqsa flood On the seventh of last October, Shaath brought together the Israeli society and melted it into a single crucible directed entirely towards achieving the goals of the war.
Netanyahu launched his cry in which he said that “Israel is waging an existential war,” stressing unity and rising above internal differences, and declaring that the final elimination of the Islamic Resistance Movement (agitationParalyzing its military capabilities and returning the kidnapped people is what Israel must agree on.
Indeed, he publicly announced the formation of a war council that would include the Minister of Defense Yoav Galant And head of the opposition State Camp party Benny GantzIn addition to Lieutenant Colonel (reserve) Gadi Eisenkot and Minister Ron Dermer as observers.
But this artificial, artificial unity, according to many analysts, soon cracked with the continuation of the aggression on Gaza and the failure to achieve the declared war goals of eliminating Hamas.
The matter did not stop there only, as Israel continues to suffer massive and unprecedented losses at all political, military, social and economic levels, and moreover, it stands in the dock before the International Court of Justice in The Hague after the lawsuit filed by South Africa accusing it of committing genocide crimes during the aggression against Gaza strip.
These differences were evident in several situations, including:
- Gadi Eisenkot said that the rest of the members must stop lying to themselves, calling for them to show courage to reach a big deal that will return the kidnapped people, instead of continuing to fight blindly.
- After 100 days, War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz appears in a massive demonstration in Tel Aviv attacking the government’s handling of the issue of Israeli prisoners in Gaza.
- Netanyahu prevented the director of his defense minister's office, Gallant, from attending the cabinet session last Friday, which angered Gallant, who accused Netanyahu of disrupting his work, and withdrew from the session for an hour before returning later.
- A verbal clash occurred between Defense Minister Gallant and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.
- Biting Minister of Transportation Miri Regev of Galant, as he entered a government session.
- Recently, the Israeli “Wala” website revealed that the Minister of Defense He tried to break into the Prime Minister's office, The situation almost deteriorated into a fistfight.
- Gallant also threatened to bring Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer Golani Brigade To control the situation in the war council.
- According to the Walla website, Netanyahu's crew monitored Gallant's crew while recording the course of the security meetings on an audio tape.
The differences in the Israeli government are due to the following:
1- Netanyahu’s attempt to evade responsibility for the security failure
The declaration of war on Gaza seemed to be the most important motivation for unity in Israel, even on the surface, but the magic quickly turned against the magician, and the way the war continued brought internal differences and conflicts to the forefront once again, and deepened the rift within Israeli society.
A tweet by Netanyahu sparked disagreements with the beginning of the ground operation in Gaza, in which he tried to evade his responsibility for the failure of October 7th. Rather, he wanted to pin the matter on the military and security leadership, as he said at the time in his tweet – which he posted at night and then deleted later – that He was not warned under any circumstances, at any stage, “about the presence of warlike intent on the part of Hamas.”
He added, “On the contrary, all security officials, including the head of the (National Security Council) and the head of the General Security Service (Shin Bet“Hamas has been deterred and interested in a settlement.”
The next morning, Netanyahu was forced to delete the tweet. He said, “I made a mistake, and I should not have said what I said, and I apologize for it,” stressing his support for all heads of security forces.
2- Personal conflicts between Netanyahu and Gallant
The differences between the two sides worsened when Netanyahu prevented Gallant from meeting with the heads of the Mossad and Shin Bet intelligence services, which are officially affiliated with the prime minister.
The differences between Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gallant were not hidden from anyone, as the constant tension in the War Council sessions is just one expression of the acute tension between them, which dates back to before the war. Among these are:
- Netanyahu deliberately limited Gallant's powers and undermined his influence within the Likud Party and the Israeli party scene.
- Netanyahu distributed the powers of the Ministry of Security to the partners in the government coalition.Religious Zionism“Headed by Bezalel Smotrich He was appointed Minister in the Ministry of Security alongside Gallant.
- Netanyahu stripped Gallant of the powers and responsibility of what is known as the “Coordinator of Government Activities in the Palestinian Territories” and the “Civil Administration,” and transferred them to Smotrich.
- Transferring responsibility for the “Border Guard” teams in the West Bank and Jerusalem from Galant to the head of “Jewish Greatness,” headed by Itamar Ben Gvir Who was appointed to the position of Israeli Minister of National Security.
- Netanyahu dismissed Gallant from his position in March 2023, due to Gallant's position in support of the protests against the amendments to the judiciary.
According to political analysts, there is a widespread belief that Netanyahu is running this war for personal political motives, and his opponents accuse him not only of failing to achieve any of its goals, but also of being a hostage to the far-right ministers whose presence he buys at all costs, so that the government does not collapse, which polls indicate Opinion indicates a decline in popularity.
3- Left-right differences
The Israeli concepts of the right and left differ from those in the world, as those who go within the framework of one state are right-wing, while supporters of the two-state solution are considered to be on the left.
The researcher specializing in Israeli affairs, Ihab Jabareen, explains that the differences between them remain within the “framework of Zionism,” which means that the distinction between the right and the left in recent years has become through the concept of Zionism. The right wants it to be extremist, religious, puritanical, and Jewish, while the left wants it to be a diverse, liberal, democratic Zionism. .
He added that the war on Gaza produced another layer of difference between the two elements of Zionism, as the left sanctifies humanity and wants to end this war, return the prisoners, and reduce the human price paid by the occupying state, while the Zionist right sanctifies the land and seeks to prove its settlement ideology that oppresses the Palestinians through killing and displacement.
4- Forming a committee to investigate the failures of the military institution
The Chief of Staff of the Israeli occupation army, Herzi Halevy, decided to form an investigation committee to look into the series of military and intelligence failures on the eve of last October 7, as well as the conduct of military operations in the war on Gaza.
Halevy formed an investigation committee composed of former military commanders, headed by Defense Minister and former Army Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, but he did not coordinate the formation of this committee with Netanyahu and Gallant.
The formation of the committee angered Netanyahu and his supporters, who strongly criticized Halevy during a political-security cabinet meeting in the presence of the prime minister, who did not intervene, while Gallant intervened to defend Halevy.
Netanyahu is well aware of the risks of forming an official investigation committee on his political future. It is likely that the committee holds him and the leaders of the military and security establishment responsible for the security failure and calls for their dismissal.
The dissatisfaction of Netanyahu and his supporters with the formation of this committee is due to two main reasons:
- The first: the composition of the committee headed by Mofaz, who is known for his strong opposition to Netanyahu.
- Second: Netanyahu and his supporters oppose the formation of investigation committees into negligence and failure, because this would strengthen the demand for the formation of an official investigation committee before the end of the war on the Gaza Strip.
5- Israeli policy towards the Gaza Strip in the post-war period
Netanyahu and his government coalition, which is based on 64 members of the Knesset, strongly oppose the US administration’s vision for the Gaza Strip the day after the war, which calls for:
- The Israeli army withdraws from the Gaza Strip after achieving the war objectives.
- Returning the “renewed” Palestinian Authority to him.
- Confirming political unity between the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the context of a future vision for establishing a Palestinian state there.
- Imposing procedures related to the entry of aid and reconstruction projects.
On the other hand, Gallant’s vision for the day after the war is consistent with the American administration, and he recently issued statements in which he said, “The presence of a strong Palestinian authority is an Israeli security interest,” and he warned of the explosion of the situation in the West Bank as a result of preventing the entry of Palestinian workers into Israel and the continued prevention of transferring Palestinian clearance funds since October 7th.
6- Netanyahu and identifying with the desires of the extreme right
Netanyahu attaches utmost importance to preserving his extreme right-wing government coalition for as long as possible after the end of the war, so he is careful to take into account the positions of the two parties in his extremist government, especially Ben Gvir and Smotrich.
He realizes that the accession of the National Camp party led by Gantz to the emergency government, the formation of which was announced after the start of the war on Gaza, is a temporary matter, as Gantz himself announced, and that there is no possibility for him to remain in the government after the end of the war.
Netanyahu identifies his positions with the extreme right, and it is expected that he will make every effort to keep the specter of Knesset elections at bay for the longest period. He will also focus on mobilizing large sectors of the right and extreme right, at the expense of his government coalition.
Netanyahu believes that these issues help him regain his and his party’s electoral popularity, which are:
- Adhering to the goal of eliminating Hamas and its rule in the Gaza Strip.
- Emphasis on not retreating from this goal, no matter how long the war lasts.
- Continued Israeli security control over the Gaza Strip.
- Not allowing the return of the Palestinian Authority, whether under its current leadership and composition, or with a renewed leadership and composition, as requested by the US administration, to the Gaza Strip.
- Maintaining the division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, regardless of the nature and composition of authority in each.
- Rejecting the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- His party and camp continue to call for the displacement of Palestinians.
- The continued oppression of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the strengthening of settlement there.
The consequences of war
The ongoing disagreements and competition within the ranks of the Israeli leadership, especially between Netanyahu, Galant, Halevy, and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, are pushing in the direction of continuing the war.
None of these people – in light of the conflict and competition between them – wants to be the first to raise questions about the difficulty of achieving the goals of the war and the prices that must be paid. This means that the war continues as it moves to the third stage.
So far, no significant political, social, or economic force has emerged in Israel that departs from this consensus and calls for an end to the war. Meanwhile, the voices of the families of Israeli detainees and their supporters demanding an end to the war remained weak and limited.