On Monday, Israelis will go to the polls for the third time in 12 months. Two previous attempts failed to elect a majority government and the two leading parties, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and former General Benny Gantz’ Blue and White party failed to form a coalition.
Israeli politics have always been precarious. Most governments were coalition governments, led by the two traditional parties Labour and Likud. However, the left-leaning Labour, plagued by defections for years and the lack of a strong leader, has been relegated to a virtually small and an irrelevant faction.
Likud is an umbrella of right-wing movements and hardline Zionists, who oppose any peace deal with the Palestinians. Its leader since the mid-1990s, Netanyahu, has managed to attract the increasingly hawkish society with his anti-Palestinian rhetoric. More importantly, he oversaw the continuing confiscation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank to build more Jewish colonies, which effectively killed off any slim hope for peace or a viable future Palestinian state.
The Israeli society has moved so much to the right that we nowadays seldom hear of the ‘peaceniks’ who for decades were pushing for a just and lasting peace settlement to the Palestinian issue.
Netanyahu, who is facing multiple charges of corruption and nepotism, knows very well that for the Israelis blocking the establishment of an independent Palestinian state or refusing to withdraw from the occupied land far outweighs the perils of having a corrupt politician as prime minister. Thus, the impact of Netanyahu’s court troubles on the election outcome should not be overestimated, and he knows that.
The elections, henceforth, is being contested on the fate of the so-called Deal of the Century, US President Donald Trump’s ludicrous peace plan that was rejected by the Arabs and most of the world. Netanyahu has taken credit for the plan, which effectively calls on the Palestinians to make extraordinary concessions while rewarding the Israelis with the right to occupy more lands and give them full control on all borders of historic Palestine, including the ones adjacent to Jordan.
The plan follows two similar American moves, one that recognised occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and US recognition of Israel’s illegal and abhorrent annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights.
Trump has gone all the way to appease Netanyahu for his own domestic electoral reasons. But the fact is that the Israeli society has moved so much to the right that we nowadays seldom hear of the ‘peaceniks’ who for decades were pushing for a just and lasting peace settlement to the Palestinian issue.
It doesn’t matter who wins this round of the election. When it comes to Palestinian rights, all Israeli politicians and parties are on the same page; they are happy to seize more lands and kill more innocent children.