Operation Protective Edge, the current war in Gaza, has revealed a remarkable consensus in Israel that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist attacks need to be ended once and for all. In the past, no such voices of support for such a war would have been heard on the left of the political spectrum. Such a case in point is Yair Lapid, the leader of the political party, Yesh Atid.
Lapid, you may recall, achieved nineteen seats in the last Knesset elections, more than any party other than Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud, by presenting his Yesh Atid as the latest and greatest centrist party in Israel. Despite this grand promo, the voices that have been heard in recent months, especially from his fellow MK's, have clearly been from the left of the political spectrum, and often quite vocal.
Therefore, it's very significant that in recent days, we've been hearing some rather surprising comments from the Yesh Atid chairman, calling for Israel to forcefully demilitarize Gaza and uncritically mentioning that the possibility of Israel "reconquering" Gaza is being discussed in the Cabinet. So the question needs to be asked - Is Lapid sincere and can he be trusted?
One MK from Yesh Atid told me some time ago that Lapid is a strong leader and an independent thinker who shouldn't be unfairly categorized as a leftist. I had actually been waiting for many months to see that maverick leader appear to the public, only to hear statement after statement from him praising Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and blasting "the settlers". True, this was most likely a frantic response to his ongoing fall in the polls, as an effort to bolster his left of center credentials and to prevent the drain-off to Tzippi Livni and to a resurgent Yitzchak Herzog's Labor party.
Nonetheless, it is certainly encouraging to see that Yair Lapid, and perhaps others, are now able to transcend the strange left-wing belief that war is always bad, and that the "Palestinians" are our partners in peace, not to mention the old and tired mantra that there is no military solution.
The current operation in Gaza is starting to prove that there is indeed a military solution and that we must take strong, uncompromising action to fulfill all of our objectives, from destroying all of the tunnels, to disarming the terrorists and asserting full Israeli control over Gaza. Then of course, we can start discussing how to reestablish and grow the Jewish civilian presence in Gaza in place of the missile launching pads that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had built on the ruins of those once-thriving Jewish communities. A permanent and significant Jewish presence is the most reliable way to ensure a permanent end to the rocket fire as well as to create long-term stability in that troubled southwestern corner of Israel.