iENGAGE: The rise of domestic Israel

As elections near, many of Israel's political parties are focusing on internal matters over security.

The coming elections have exposed a new schism among Israelis. Beyond Left-Right and Orthodox-secular, Israelis are now divided over whether they are more anxious about external threats or domestic crises.

For the first time, the Labor Party has effectively ceded foreign policy to the Likud and is running on a domestic-driven agenda. It is an astonishing moment in Israel’s political history. The party that founded the state and then governed uncontested for three decades, defining Israel’s security doctrine in its formative years, has little to say about a nuclear Iran, the rise of Hamas and Hezbollah on Israel’s borders, the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt, the Palestinian stalemate. At one of the most dangerous moments in Israel’s history, the Labor Party has refashioned itself into a European-style social democratic party, primarily concerned with cost of living and wage gaps.

Yet Labor’s retreat from the Palestinian issue reflects a healthy realization, from the party responsible for the Oslo process, of the limits of Israeli concessions to influence Arab rejectionism. Implicitly conceding that Israel lacks a credible partner for a final-status agreement, Labor has aligned itself with the Israeli consensus, which supports a two-state solution but doubts its implementation anytime soon.

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