As Operation “Shield and Arrow” ends, and both Israelis and Gazans are supposed to trust their local governments and terrorist organizations that it is indeed safe to return to normal, a number of strategic and geo-political conclusions should be noted along with their possible results. There is one thing that all observations have in common, and that is Netanyahu’s direct involvement and attempt to remodel his glorified, idealistic, Status Quo.
Throughout the operation, which began with Israel assassinating three leading Jihadist generals in response to over 100 rockets fired at it the previous week, Hamas did not get involved militarily despite all its social media threats; and for very clear reasons. The Islamic Jihad of Palestine is a political and militant movement, directly threatening Hamas' strong hold on Palestinian public opinion. Hamas leadership knows all too well what happens when a Palestinian political party gains too many freedoms, they were in the very same position when they occupied the Gaza Strip and kicked out all PA officials back in 2007 in a bloody and violent takeover.
Netanyahu largely wrote Gaza and most of the Judea/Samaria (West Bank) enclaves off years ago as a permanent problem to be militarily managed rather than solved. He doesn’t want to upend the status quo. His one focus is Iran.— Boris Ryvkin (@BRyvkin) May 10, 2023
The Israel Defense Forces taking out the Jihad’s leadership one by one is practically a gift for Hamas; perhaps even a behind-the-scenes agreement between the Israeli government and the recognized terrorist organization. What many seem to forget about terrorism, is that at the end of the day, there is no such thing as unnegotiable evil. In the same way that the Rabin-led coalition of the early 90s dared to empower a recognized terrorist organization like the PLO with its leading faction, Fatah, functioning as a governing body, the Netanyahu-led government could hypothetically do the same for Hamas.
The current government of the Palestinian Authority is largely made up of Abu Mazen loyalists and former Fatah terrorists, who are all quickly losing their favorable polling stats to Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and an abundance of localized terrorist squads. A recent poll report indicated that over 70% of Palestinians prefer an armed and active resistance to Israel, something the current PA under the aging Mahmoud Abbas does not really offer. The day when Hamas will take over the governing authorities in Judea and Samaria, just like they did in Gaza, is not far. Under these circumstances, an Israeli leader like Bibi Netanyahu, who is famously crowned by his voters as “Mr. Security”, would probably like to be fully prepared.
Ynetnews reports Netanyahu expressed frustration with Israel Katz, the Minister of Energy, over his comments regarding the assassination of Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif. pic.twitter.com/8j3wToV9Rq— doge (@IntelDoge) May 9, 2023
This bizarre prediction of a future chain of events would barely be given any thought if not for Netanyahu’s careful wording towards Hamas all throughout Operation “Shield and Arrow”. During an interview given by Energy Minister Israel Katz last week, the Likud member said: "Yahya Sinwar and Muhammad Deif must know that their heads will be on the table. The main goal of the entire security system will be to eliminate them." After being informed of Minister Katz’s choice of words, the Prime Minister was reportedly furious and made it a point to bring it up at the Security Cabinet meeting he was attending.
It was opposition Knesset Member, Avigdor Lieberman, who pointed out Netanyahu’s actions to gain a few political bonus points: “I must point out, what is particularly jarring against the background of the elimination of the senior Islamic Jihad leaders is the immunity that Netanyahu grants to the heads of Hamas. You have to understand, Islamic Jihad is a nuisance, the real threat is Hamas. He prevents any harm to the heads of Hamas, any actual harm to Hamas's infrastructure.”
While a Hamas-run West Bank is not ideal, it can offer Israel a few more decades of unstable security if it can mitigate the armed rivalry it has with the terrorist organization. In the Likud and Liberal-right political world of Israel, it has long been established that the inconclusive ‘Status Quo’, which has formed in the aftermath of the Oslo Accords and the Second Intifada, is currently the only workable solution for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
Signing an agreement similar in nature to the Oslo Accords with Hamas but with far less press and no added territorial sovereignty, could give the paramilitary organization the final stamp of approval to securely takeover, while giving Israel a limited amount of added ‘Status Quo’ years. It is extremely hard to imagine Benjamin Netanyahu being the one behind a renewed right-wing version of the Oslo Accords; however, the same statement could be replaced with Ariel Sharon and the Gaza disengagement, or Yitzhak Rabin and the original Oslo Accords.