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May 13, 2021

An unfolding tragedy

The Israeli occupation, repression, disruption, discrimination, property confiscation or home demolition are a decades-long daily affair. Likewise, racist and violent provocations by Israeli fanatics are common practice in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Not surprisingly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justifies the Israeli repression of peaceful protest and religious worship by portraying it as “a struggle between tolerance and intolerance; law and order and law breaking and violence”.

Netanyahu’s carefully articulated, self-righteous trademark “hasbara” has grown tired, blatant and ineffective, alienating instead of deceiving the allies, and infuriating Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims the world over. But it works at home.

In fact, the short answer to the other frequently asked question, “why now?” is well, Netanyahu, of course. Duh!

The man widely believed to be a serial liar and a skilled manipulator is on trial in Israel on various corruption charges, including fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. If he loses his premiership, there is little doubt he, like his predecessor Ehud Olmert, will go to jail.

Netanyahu has resorted to all possible means to maintain power, including grooming, empowering and allying with the most fanatic elements of the Israeli society – even more extreme than his extremist Likud party.

These are the same ultra-religious “neo-fascists” who, according to one Israeli journalist, in mid-April descended on the Palestinian areas of the city, intimidating, beating, looting, and destroying Palestinian property.

Netanyahu helped these racist fanatics organise and unite into the Religious Zionist Party, to ensure they pass the minimum threshold to enter the Knesset and join his planned coalition.

But while he has thus far failed to form another coalition government, they have succeeded beyond expectations, winning six decisive seats in the new parliament and unleashing a tirade of violent provocations, starting with Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, late last month, the relentless Netanyahu vetoed occupied East Jerusalem’s Palestinians from voting in their upcoming national election, as they had done before, further infuriating the Palestinians and hampering their internal democratic process.

Ironically, the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas jumped on the opportunity, postponing the elections he feared he would lose. Even more ironic is that the Palestinians are rebelling the most in areas where Abbas commands no security control or coordination with Israel.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has jumped on the threats by the Islamist movement Hamas to retaliate against Israel, if it continued its siege on Al-Aqsa compound, to further escalate the tension leading to attacks, counterattacks and, sadly, scores of mostly Palestinian casualties, and steering the attention away from the popular upheaval in Jerusalem.

I have no doubt that Netanyahu will use the new escalation to stay in power, whether by denying the opposition the chance to form a coalition or by insisting on another national emergency government.

Excerpted: ‘Jerusalem, the unfolding tragedy’