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Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 142nd Day of War

On the 142nd day of war in Israel, dawn came with news of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation to the security cabinet on Thursday night of a document of principles regarding the management of Gaza after the war, aiming to install “local officials” unaffiliated with terrorism to administer services in the Strip instead of Hamas.

Notably, the document of principles Netanyahu presented does not specifically name the Palestinian Authority or rule out its participation in the post-war governance of Gaza. Instead, it says that civil affairs in Gaza will be run by “local officials” who have “administrative experience” and who are not tied to “countries or entities that support terrorism.” The language is vague, but it could rule out groups that receive funding from Qatar and Iran — as Hamas does — or possibly the PA, whose welfare program includes payments to convicted terrorists and their families.

The plan begins by stipulating a principle for the immediate term: The IDF will continue the war until achieving its goals, which are the destruction of the military capabilities and governmental infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the return of the hostages abducted on October 7, and the removal of any security threat from Gaza Strip long-term. The IDF will maintain an indefinite freedom to operate throughout the entire Strip to prevent the resurgence of terror activity, the document says, describing this as an intermediate-term principle. The plan states that Israel will move forward with its already-in-motion project to establish a security buffer zone on the Palestinian side of the Strip’s border, adding that it will remain in place “as long as there is a security need for it.”

Good news! The IDF appeared to clear the way for southern evacuees to return home after nearly five months in temporary quarters, saying that no security issues were preventing a return to communities near the Gaza border. The announcement by the IDF Home Front Command declared it essentially safe to return to all communities located between four and seven kilometers (2.5-4.3 miles) from the border with Gaza, along with 18 communities even closer to the Strip, including some practically abutting the war-ravaged enclave.

The move, which may mark a significant step toward the resettlement of some of those communities within weeks, follows reports that the Finance Ministry had reached a deal with mayors of evacuated communities aimed at incentivizing the return of residents starting in March while continuing to foot the bill for those who wish to remain in government-afforded accommodations until July.

As an Israeli delegation returned from Paris with an updated framework for a hostage release deal, the war cabinet convened to discuss the details and create an “outline of agreement.” The updated hostage deal, which has yet to be approved by Hamas, involves the initial release of 25-40 women, children, elderly, and ill hostages during a 6-week ceasefire and in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

Talks in Paris included negotiations between the US, Qatar, Egypt, and Israel, but didn’t include Hamas. However, there was some indication in the Saudi media that Hamas had “softened” its position and may have rescinded its demand for a permanent ceasefire, a condition that was a non-starter with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Netanyahu signaled his approval of the deal but insisted the IDF would continue its operations in Rafah to eliminate the last Hamas battalions. He said, “We are working to reach another framework for the release of our hostages, as well as the completion of the elimination of the Hamas battalions in Rafah.” The agreement calls for only a temporary ceasefire and has provisions for a “redeployment” of the IDF in Gaza. Israel is sending a delegation to Qatar to hopefully conclude the terms of the deal.

Future Leadership

In the continuing search for people who know how to successfully organize projects and could be useful in the post war government, today I call attention to Dr. Michal Tsur, 50. In the business and technology world, she’s been a familiar figure for years, one of Israel’s prominent serial entrepreneurs. But the general public became acquainted with her mainly as one of the leaders of the high-tech industry’s protests against the government’s judicial overhaul last year.

She is articulate and composed, and those who know her as an activist also know that she is neither angry nor accusatory, but her concern coincides with her efforts to channel her personal perspective into a broader national one that could change reality. Her entrepreneurial spirit is always looking for action.

Given her doctoral study in evolutionary game theory, she sees the fault lines of the current governmental structure and believes they need to be changed. She has opined that the cabinet acts like the board of a business whose directors take money from the treasury and give it only to some employees. This board has clear conflicts of interest, but everyone sits around the table and watches without doing anything. This conduct weakens Israel as a state, and every sector understands that. Given her academic background, she is quoted in a recent article in CTECH that, “According to game theory, it (the change) should have happened long ago.”

In recent months, there were those who wondered if Tsur would make her way into politics, after it became clear that she was parting ways with her latest successful venture, Kaltura. Some even thought she would join forces with her former co-founder of Cyota, Naftali Bennett. Instead, last week the former prime minister joined the board of Tsur’s new startup, Remepy, focusing on hybrid drugs.

She is married to Eran Shalev, a professor of American history and is a mother with a son currently serving in the IDF. In her vision of the country, she looks at what makes the tech industry so successful and believes it’s a shared goal that everyone is focused on achieving. She believes that’s what’s missing in the political leadership.

Clearly after the war Israel must undergo a drastic change in infrastructure and restart.

Tsur was born in Jerusalem, completed a bachelor’s degree in law and economics, and went on to obtain a doctorate in mathematics at NYU and a postdoc at Yale before starting to found companies. She believes that the government needs as many certified experts and scientists as does the hi tech industry here. A future government of Israel would be well advised to tap this significant human resource.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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