The Israel-Gaza war has been going on for more than three weeks, claiming hundreds of lives. Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "We are determined to complete this mission, with or without a ceasefire."
GlobalPost senior correspondent Noga Tarnopolsky gives some insight into the key economic and political issues of the war.
How are Palestinians viewing the conflict, especially given talk that this might evolve into a third intifada?
I think it's safe to say Palestinians think this conflict is disastrous. The largest number of victims are Palestinians, and it is difficult to see anything positive in this conflict for people on either side.
The Israelis hope to secure their state from the threats posed by Hamas, which before this conflict was losing support among Palestinians. The Palestinian government dominated by Fatah, a secular nationalist movement, hopes to emerge strengthened. Given the vagaries of war, it still might succeed.
What we have been seeing in the past three and a half weeks is an outright war between Israel and Hamas. Last week, after Israeli errant fire killed 15 Gazans who had been taking refuge in a UN run school, violent revolts jolted Jerusalem and the West Bank for a number of days. Neither the military battle nor the clashes, intense as they were limited, come close to being an intifada, which were sustained popular revolts lasting years.
Some of the talk of an intifada starting has been fueled by activists and pundits who seem to have been itching for an armed revolt for the past two years or so, despite little evidence on the ground for it.
A recent survey by the well-regarded Ramallah pollster Khalil Shikaki shows that Palestinians do not support an intifada, seeing the International Criminal Court — and not the street — as the best venue for their claims against Israel.
How has Netanyahu's popularity among Israelis shifted since the current war began, and how will the conflict impact his political future?
Netanyahu is doing extremely well in the polls with an approximately 85 percent approval rating. That figure is more than double — possibly triple — the support he got during the last Israeli elections. In part, that can be attributed to the anxiety of a small country that is at war and feels beleaguered.
Ironically, this may not have much of an impact going forward. Fearful of his current popularity, Netanyahu is facing a rebellion among his own right-wing or center-right ministers, at least three of whom hope to get his job in the next election.
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The foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, cut his party's ties to the prime minister's party mid-war, in what was a pretty bold attempt at defining himself as a candidate. A few weeks ago, Netanyahu fired the deputy defense minister — another right-wing rebel — when he basically announced that the prime minister was a wimp.
Netanyahu is so concerned that he opened Thursday's cabinet meeting with a plea to his ministers: "Do not harm the special unity that we have. Mind your words and be careful with your deeds."
Are Israelis apprehensive about their country entering a decidedly long and deadly war? Is there any palpable fear of how the war might affect Israel's economy?
Yes, apprehensive and deeply concerned, on many levels. The Tourism Ministry has set up a committee to investigate compensation payments for that sector, which has seen a 13 percent decrease in tourist entries to the country in the first three weeks of July.
Also, neighborhoods all around the country are hosting markets at which small business people from the south of the country, which is suffering more than any other part of the country, can sell their wares. People are in no mood for frivolity and are also afraid to go out while sirens are sounding. As a result, restaurants in Ashdod and Ashkelon have lost about 90 percent of their business in the past month and are really hurting.
That said, Israel's national economy continues to be robust. Last Friday, Standard & Poor's confirmed its A+ credit rating with a "Stable" forecast for Israel, as Globes reported.