‘War criminal’ Netanyahu out but Palestinians think it will be same

Palestinians are not holding their breath that things would be better with a new Israeli government, writes an Al Qalam Reporter

Despite Benjamin Netanyahu being booted out and a new Government is to take over, Palestine watchers and Palestinians themselves are not celebrating the departure of this “monster” because they believe it would be much of the same.

It was an Israeli-Palestinian political party, United Arab List that was the kingmaker for the broad coalition that helped to eventually topple Netanyahu who stubbornly clung on to power for 12 years.

Mansour Abbas, who leads the United Arab List, signed on to the coalition less than two hours before Wednesday’s deadline was set to expire.

Under the coalition agreement, Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid would rotate the role of prime minister, with Bennett taking up the post for the first two years and Lapid the final two.

But the Palestinians who were interviewed were not optimistic.

“I don’t think whoever is in charge in Israel will make a great deal of difference to the Palestinians,” said Ahmad Aweidah, the former head of the Palestinian stock exchange. “There might be slight differences and nuances but all mainstream Israeli parties, with slight exceptions on the extreme left, share pretty much the same ideology.”

Approached for comment on what impact the new Government may have, Na’eem Jeenah, Executive Director of the Afro Middle East Centre in Johannesburg said: ‘While Naftali Bennett is even more right-wing than Netanyahu, and is fiercely pro-annexation of parts of the West Bank, he is constrained in making very drastic moves by the fact that he is in a diverse coalition’.

‘Furthermore, his focus will be more “domestic” (within Israel) than on the Occupied Palestinian Territory. For now, he will probably be happy to allow things with the Palestinians to continue as they have been: siege on Gaza, occupation of West Bank, annexed Jerusalem with continuing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, but with more settlement building taking place in the West Bank’.

“Within Israel, despite having a Palestinian-Israeli party in his coalition, Bennett will likely want to, like Netanyahu, take revenge on Palestinian citizens for their recent uprising. That could play out in many ways, including reneging on the deal made with the United Arab List”.

“All of this suggests that Bennett’s term will not last; the coalition is unlikely to hold and Israel could be having another election by the end of the year.

Iqbal Jassat, Executive Member of the Media Review Network (MRN) told Al Qalam that “changes in Knesset and replacement of Netanyahu doesn’t change anything” in the body politic of apartheid Israel.

“Different layers of hard line racist ideologues of Zionism will continue coming to the fore to enforce military force. 

Life in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories will not be made any easier by war criminals who head up the regime in Tel Aviv.

“Israel hasn’t reached its Rubicon moment yet. Neither its base of white supremacists nor its US enablers will allow it to introspect its trail of illegal and immoral violations of fundamental human rights”.

Dr Lubna Nadvi, a long-standing Palestine activist said: “One of those eight parties in this coalition is the United Arab List, led by Mansour Abbas. It is the first time in history that an Arab Israeli party would form part of the Israeli government and this in itself signals a major change on the ground. While all of these eight parties are ideologically very different to each other, they seem to be united around their goal to get Binyamin Netanyahu out as Prime Minister”.

“What is of major concern however are the reports that the incoming prime minister will be the leader of the Yamina party, Naftali Bennet for the first 2 years of the current term and then Yair Lapid will serve as PM for the subsequent 2 years. Bennet is a right wing religious nationalist who has historically expressed very violently racist views towards the Palestinians and may push a very harsh right wing agenda to further oppress the Palestinians than they already are.

“But the presence of the United Arab List in this coalition presents a new dynamic to the political situation on the ground. Only time will tell if this party will have any influence in changing the current Israeli government policy towards the Palestinians both within the borders of Israel and in the Palestinian territories ….” she added.

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