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April 15, 2019

Netanyahu returns


April 15, 2019

The Israeli elections have thrown up the worst of all possible outcomes, with the hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu winning a fifth term in office. His upcoming term is likely to trump the last five he headed in terms of the impunity with which Israel treats Palestinians. And the fact that Netanyahu has won once again amidst serious corruption indictments over his head is a sad reflection of political life in Israel. This was a chance to say goodbye to a man who has done the most damage to the cause of peace in Israel and Palestine in recent decades. Now, with Trump’s support, Netanyahu has created the soil for another Palestinian intifada – and Palestinian activists face another zero-sum game in the years ahead. The fact that the election was won on aggressive promises to extend the occupation of Palestine is itself proof that the more Palestinians are killed the more the Israeli public loves its leaders.

In the last election, Netanyahu won by creating fear. He claimed Israeli-Arab voters would head to the polling stations in droves and conduct voting fraud. This time, he promised aggression, via claims to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. This puts us in a difficult position of determining whether fear-mongering is worse than unchecked aggression. Having been offered free rein by the Trump-led USA, Netanyahu has been emboldened that nothing Israel does will lead to any real international consequences. While South Africa was punished, eventually, for apartheid, the Netanyahu-led Israel continues to get away with war crimes against the Palestinian people. Instead of looking to heal the divisions within Israel, let alone those with the occupied territories of Palestine, Netanyahu will push a move towards greater internal division, between Jew and Arab – and even Jew and Jew. In the last year of his last term in power, Netanyahu had begun to push another set of laws against internal dissent against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. This is part of a broader shift towards a more aggressive posture within the Israeli public. So what would happen if Israel attempted to annex parts of the West Bank? The answer is largely unknown. While Netanyahu could be justified in his hubris that Israel remains protected, the only constant will be Israeli violence and Palestinian resistance.

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