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September 14, 2019

Netanyahu’s move

Editorial

September 14, 2019

It would appear corruption allegations are not enough to de-seat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Having failed to generate parliamentary majority after the last polls in Israel this year, Netanyahu has returned with bolder and more expansionist promises. He has now promised to annex part of the occupied West Bank if he returns to office next week, including the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea. The spiel appeals to right-wing parties in Israel, who had offered limited support to Netanyahu after the last election. There is no doubt that any such move would be a death blow to any Israel-Palestine peace process. Moreover, the move seems like it has come out of Modi’s template for Kashmir – turning an occupation into an annexation. The trouble is that any annexation will not change the disputed status of the territory itself, nor will it change the resolve of those occupied to fight back. But this is a move that is designed to show muscle, instead of a path towards harmony.

Will Israel face sanctions for its expansionist stance? That is unlikely. Modi’s India has suffered no real consequences for its re-occupation of Kashmir. So why would Netanyahu’s Israel, which is already the darling of the Western powers? Warnings from Europe over such a move are toothless and will remain so – unless someone takes serious action. There is no doubt that Netanyahu’s move comes at a precarious time. Polls show his party, Likud, neck and neck with the opposition, which means it is unlikely to form a governing coalition, unless something changes. Netanyahu knows that he can make any promise and attempt to deliver it without any consequences. Israel is a country where keeping political power is not about stopping war, it is about keeping it going. With Trump’s new policy for Israel and Palestine still awaited, Netanyahu has indicated that it will be heavily skewed in favour of Israeli expansionism. This will not be a path to peace, but a path to more conflict and more Palestinian lives lost. The Palestinian leadership has reminded the world that any such move would constitute a war crime. The people of Israel have a responsibility to vote Netanyahu out and the people of the world have the responsibility to tell their governments to keep Israel in check. If not, there will be more difficult days ahead, and the Palestine issue could remain unresolved for decades to come.

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