And within 48 hours of fighting that is exactly what happened. Bibi frightened Bennett away from forming a coalition with an Israeli Arab party, not to mention centrist and progressive Israelis, and Mansour Abbas was put in an impossible situation by Hamas by looking like he was collaborating with Israeli Jews who were hammering Palestinians from Jerusalem to Gaza.
So the alternative coalition talks completely fell apart. Once again, the past buried the future.
Will it always be thus? Too soon to say. Because each also miscalculated the costs of their actions to some degree.
Netanyahu’s far-right followers, and the police, went way too far in antagonizing and cracking down on Palestinians in Jerusalem right at one of the most sensitive moments — Muslim holy days at the end of Ramadan and after the Palestinian Authority decided to postpone elections. The rage of the Jerusalem Palestinians added fuel not only to violence in that city, but also kindled the strife between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews across Israeli towns — which is really, really dangerous for Israel’s stability.
Meanwhile, Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader, seems to have gotten totally intoxicated with the idea that by lobbing Hamas rockets into Jerusalem, in the midst of Jewish-Arab clashes there, he could in one move take over the whole Palestinian cause — sidelining the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Jordan and all the Arab states. Big mistake.
Attacking Jerusalem with rockets crossed a huge Israeli red line and prompted the Israeli Army to deal a serious blow to Hamas’s tunnel grids all over Gaza and to its munitions factories, and generally amplify the misery of life there under Hamas. In doing so, the Israeli Army was also sending a message to Hezbollah in Lebanon: Do not think you can out-crazy us. Pay attention: We will not be deterred by global public opinion in Gaza or Lebanon if you threaten us with missiles.
I wish that I could say that any of this will produce a profound rethinking by Bibi or Hamas, but I doubt it. For the last 12 years Bibi has had one mission — to keep Hamas and the Palestinian Authority weak and divided so that he could come to the U.S. Congress every year and say, “Oh, gosh, I’d love to make peace, but we have no partner on the other side. The Palestinians are weak and divided.”
And for 12 years Hamas has had one mission: to keep Netanyahu in power so Hamas and its backers in Iran could tell their naïve supporters in Europe, on liberal college campuses, in the media and in the Democratic Party that the problem is not Hamas — an Islamo-fascist organization without a shred of democratic fiber that is dedicated to destroying the Jewish state and imposing a Tehran-like Islamic regime in Palestine — but rather that terrible pro-settler Netanyahu government in Israel.