TEL AVIV — The resumption of fighting between Israel and Hamas on Friday comes amid serious disagreements between the positions voiced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and those of the hawkish wing of Israel’s government. At issue are tactical decisions involving Israel’s renewed military maneuvers in Gaza as well as strategic questions about the political objectives of the war and the future administration of the enclave.
The United States, like most of the Western world, considers the Palestinian Authority (PA) the only viable postwar alternative to Hamas' rule in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, cannot afford to go along with the idea given the choke hold of his extreme right partners, for whom such a move portends future negotiations on a Palestinian state and territorial concessions. Netanyahu thus faces a choice between the future of his coalition, which is his only guarantee of remaining in power, and the national interest of his country.
The Religious Zionism and Jewish Power parties, represented by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, respectively, are waging a high-profile campaign equating the Palestinians of Gaza with those on the West Bank, which is currently under PA administration.
Their case is supported by Hamas' surging popularity in West Bank cities, as reflected in a poll showing that Palestinian backing for the Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel is greater in the West Bank than in Gaza. The survey was conducted the first week of November by Arab World for Research & Development, a public opinion research firm affiliated with Birzeit University.