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April 19, 2019

Palestinian dreams


April 19, 2019

The dreams of peace for the Palestinians suffered further blow as Israeli strongman Netanyahu got the mandate to continue to rule with his extreme rightwing policies.

The hopes of a viable Palestine state have diminished for the time being as the Trump-Netanyahu nexus will continue to dominate the Middle East policy till next American presidential elections in November 2020.

The April 9 Israeli general election saw a close fight between hard-line rightwing nationalist current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his centrist main rival former IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) chief Gantz. Both ended up with 35 seats each. The smaller ultra-rightwing and far-right parties including United Torah Judaism and Shas got 32 seats among themselves. While the liberal left and United Arab list got 12 seats in total. This election result has failed to end the rule of the hard-line rightwing nationalist coalition government led by Netanyahu.

But Netanyahu will continue as prime minister with the courtesy of smaller rightwing parties. He has succeeded to win the support of 64 lawmakers to gain a simple majority.

The election results showed the continued domination of rightwing forces. The ruling coalition led by Netanyahu will be dominated by the smaller far-right parties. Once the largest party in Israel, the Labour Party now has been reduced to just six seats. The new Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) led by former chief of the IDF Benny Gantz emerged as the main centre-right political force.

According to the leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Gantz and other generals who are supporting him and part of the new party, “stopped hot headed politicians including Netanyahu at least twice in the last 10 years from attacking Iran and unnecessary escalations with Palestine”. The same hot-headed and short-sighted politicians are still in power. It is not clear whether some sane generals are still around or not. (These same generals bombed Gaza to the Stone Age and led the continued military occupation and repression. They are not doves of peace but more intelligent defence strategists). This shows that the situation is very fragile in the Middle East. Efforts to further dominate the region will destabilise the region even more. The Iranian and the Russians are not going to give up their strategic interests in the region so easily.

Netanyahu’s re-election will have far-reaching consequences for the Middle East. Netanyahu can launch a new offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon and against Hamas in Gaza. The prospects of a new military conflict between Hezbollah and Israel cannot be ruled out in the short-to-medium term. It is most likely that Netanyahu will adopt a more aggressive strategy and policy against Iran, and he will continue to punish and repress the Palestinian youth.

He had announced to annex the West Bank and establish new Jewish settlements on Palestine lands during the election campaign. The unconditional support from President Trump and the infighting between Hamas and Fatah that caused divisions in the Palestine Authority have embolden the Netanyahu and the Israeli ruling class to continue its aggressive policy of expansion on Palestinian land.

Netanyahu used his majority in the Israeli parliament to pass the racist Nation State Law which declared Israel a Jewish state. This law has made all non-Jewish population second-class citizens. This legislation was aimed to please the extreme rightwing forces in Israeli society. Netanyahu will be under pressure from far-right Zionist parties and groups to implement extreme expansionist policies to further repress and brutalise the Palestinian population.

President Trump played an important role in the re-election of Netanyahu. He changed the decades-old American policy on the Palestinian state, Golan Heights and Jewish settlements, and officially recognised the occupied Golan Heights as part of Israel. He refused to accept the Palestinian state as a viable solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict. And so he abandoned the decades-old American policy of a two-state solution to this conflict.

Trump’s new ‘deal of the century’ is aimed to abolish all the previous peace accords and deals that guaranteed a viable Palestine state. President Trump is preparing to impose a one-state solution on the Palestinian population. This policy shift in favour of Israel helped Netanyahu consolidate his position and support among the hard-line rightwing forces. He developed his image as a strong leader who can defend the interests of the Israeli state better than any other leader. That helped him cling on to power, despite facing serious corruption charges.

Both Trump and Netanyahu are working closely to weaken the Palestinian leadership and their possible resistance to the new deal and peace plan for the Middle East. The American administration has already cut all sorts of financial support to the UN agency UNWRA that was established in 1949 to provide humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian population. The Trump administration is putting lot of pressure on the Palestine Authority and leadership to engage in a peace negotiation that will deny them a Palestinian state and instead will impose a one-state solution on them.

The Palestinian people have tried everything, from armed struggle to mass mobilisation and political struggles, to win freedom. They have been brutally repressed by the Israeli state forces and politically betrayed by the global powers. Their dreams of freedom, liberty, sovereign and independence have been shattered by the betrayal of their own leadership and by the big powers. But all this has failed to break their determination. They are continuing their struggle in the most difficult circumstances. No solution will bring peace and stability in the region without satisfying the aspirations and will of the Palestinian population.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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