The government that Bibi will form is nothing but a natural result of the rise of the extreme right in Israel with the complicity of extremist Palestinian groups such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad
Whenever an Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu is formed, it is said his government is the most right-wing since the establishment of the state of Israel.
Every time Bibi is able to outdo himself, in order to return to the position of prime minister. We see him this time in an alliance with the far-right Itamar Ben Gvir, one of the most prominent political figures in Israel today. Ben Gvir has become the head of “Religious Zionism”, the third largest party in the Israel parliament. The Likud leader also allied himself with the extremist MK Bezalel Smotrich.
Ben Gvir, 45, who wants Netanyahu to appoint him as minister of internal security, represents the worst in Israeli society, which is becoming more and more extremist. At the age of 14, he joined the very extreme Kach movement. Now-banned in Israel and the United States, the movement was founded by American-born Rabbi Meir Kahane, known for its fanatical and racist views towards anything that is not Jewish, as well as his enmity towards Palestinians and Arabs and his constant incitement to kill them.
The government that Bibi will form is nothing but a natural result of the rise of the extreme right in Israel with the complicity of extremist Palestinian groups such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad. These factions have placed themselves at the disposal of foreign forces. They did everything in their power to serve the Israeli extremist right, which opposed the Oslo Accord claiming “there is no Palestinian party with which to negotiate.” Certainly, some of the blame falls on the shoulders of the Palestinian Authority, which emerged from the Oslo process. The PA has never realised the importance of the time factor, even though one might ask if Israel ever actually wanted peace with the Palestinians.
Hamas and all those behind it, especially the Iranian regime, have not missed an opportunity to strike at a peace project, no matter how modest it was. The Israeli far-right and the Muslim Brotherhood are reaping the fruits of what they sowed.
“Bibi” Netanyahu’s return to the office of prime minister can only reflect this alliance between extremists, which boasts among its dubious achievements the Hebron massacre of 1994, on the one hand and the suicide operations of Hamas on the other. Hamas operations were instrumental in making Israeli society wary of anything related to peace or peace-making.
Above all, it remains it be seen whether a new Israeli administration which includes Itamar Ben Gvir-type ministers can be acceptable to the United States, Europe and the region. The answer is that such a government cannot coexist with others in this world. It cannot deal with the Arab world, where many countries have established normal relations with Israel.
Such a government will not be able to work with the countries of the region, nor function within Israel itself. It will be a government without a political horizon unless it is to bring the roof down upon everybody.
Bibi can change hues to suit the occasion. This time internal, regional and international realities require far reaching change. That would mean the formation of a government that includes the extreme right, in the short term and later building alliances with acceptable personalities. Among these figures is Benny Gantz, defence minister in the government of Yair Lapid and a former army chief of staff. Gantz’s importance is that he knows the region and has good relations with the United States.
Israel cannot, if it really wants to confront the Iranian threat, seclude itself from and abandon American support.
Above all, no matter how loud Ben Gvir and others shout and no matter how much Netanyahu resorts to political manoeuvring, sooner or later Israel will have to face the fact that there are between seven and eight million Palestinians between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. There are some two million Palestinians in Israel itself, two million Palestinians in Gaza and three million Palestinians in the West Bank. There is a need for a political solution, simply because there is no way for the Palestinians to go away, especially since the bonds that unite the Palestinians rise above the bidding of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The Likud faction won the Israeli elections. When we look at Bibi’s record, we see a first grade opportunistic politician. He has a natural tendency to undermine or block any process under the pretext of making settlements a reality on the ground, especially in the West Bank. But at the same time he knows that the stage is not one of confrontation with the current US administration, in the way he did with Barack Obama’s White House. The world has changed after the war in Ukraine and in light of the Iranian threat to the countries of the region. Israel cannot adjust to global changes with governments that include the likes of a terrorist such as Itamar Ben Gvir.
The piece was originally published in The Arab Weekly