Points to pursue amid Islamic Jihad escalation

The prime minister and the rest of the interim government should support new Defense Minister MK Naftali Bennett.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi [L] with Defense Minister Naftali Bennett  (photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi [L] with Defense Minister Naftali Bennett
With the targeted killing of Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata in Gaza and the simultaneous attack on the Jihad’s deputy, Akram Al-Ajouri in western Damascus, Israel’s interim government achieved more on Naftali Bennett’s first day in office than was accomplished during Liberman’s full tenure. Israel showed it means business – and if needed, is prepared to talk less and do more. On all fronts.
A strange turn of events and the current political stalemate has produced the placement of Naftali Bennett as head of the modern-day holy of holies – the Defense Ministry of Israel. Some see it as a folly; others see it as fate. Regardless of perspective, it’s an opportunity for change. Time may be ticking on Bennett’s term, but what isn’t kickstarted in the first 100 days in office will often not be done for years thereafter. Therefore, the new defense minister should now pursue the following points:
Enhance Israel’s “will to win”:  Israel needs to display – or at the very least leave the perception – that we want to win on all fronts and are no longer willing to settle for a draw. If our enemies will be convinced that we intend to win the next confrontations, whether they be near or far, those confrontations may be postponed or prevented – which is a good thing. The need, however, to solve the situation in the South is in consensus. Politics aside, the method of doing so can and should be agreed upon by the new defense minister, the prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu), the head of the largest party (Blue and White's Benny Gantz) and the acting chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee (Blue and White's Gabi Ashkenazi).
Enhance Israel’s internal bond and camaraderie: Israelis need to once again feel that “all are for one – and one is for all.” The new defense minister can and should pass a new “draft law.” Most of the key issues are already in agreement by most of the parties and Bennett can succeed where all of his predecessors have failed. The time has come for a new draft law that sets the stones for equal opportunities, obligations and rights for all who truly care for Israel. As a by-product, the government can help restore confidence in Israel’s key institutions: The Defense and Justice ministries.
Enhance Defense Cooperation: The United States is Israel’s greatest ally, but for several (good) reasons, America’s interests in the region are diminishing and its willingness to sacrifice American lives is disappearing. Israel can and should be able to defend itself by itself, but regional alliances are important and should be welcome. Israel should strive for alliances: commercial and defense cooperation with states who have common goals and adversaries – or example, the UAE and perhaps Saudi Arabia. A joint and peaceful military exercise with Egypt, the UAE and perhaps Saudi Arabia in the Red Sea or the Arabian Sea would be unprecedented and perhaps paramount.
The prime minister and the rest of the interim government should support the new defense minister in pursuing these goals – and so should the opposition. Bennett’s success is now everyone’s success.
As for the political deadlock, there is no real reason for new general elections. The 22nd Knesset was sworn in and parliamentarians don’t want another round at the ballots. Nor do the voters. There is, however, a delusional disagreement as to who should serve as prime minister or who should be first at the realm. Approximately 60% of the Jewish voters who participated in the Jewish state’s recent elections voted for parties that pledged their allegiance to Netanyahu as prime minister before the vote. That has had little effect on the precarious argument held by many that Benny Gantz, the leader of the largest party in parliament, should be prime minister. That dispute can be swiftly solved with a direct election for prime minister. The sooner the better.
The author is the CEO of Acumen Risk Ltd. a risk management firm that specializes in risk and crisis management platforms. He is also a research fellow at the International Counterterrorism (ICT) Center in Herzliya, Israel.