Why a fourth Netanyahu term may be a good thing
By Alan Hart
If I had to express my hope in one sentence it would be this. A fourth term as prime minister for Binyamin Netanyahu would see Israel becoming more and more isolated and could improve the chances of Western governments being moved to use the leverage they have to cause the Zionist (not Jewish) state to end its defiance of international law and denial of the Palestinian claim for justice.
Another way to put it would be to say Netanyahu is a disaster for Zionism so let’s have more of him.
A vision of the disaster Netanyahu’s leadership has been bringing on was put into words by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan when he addressed the anti-Netanyahu “Israel wants change” rally in Rabin Square on 7 March. He said:
Israel is surrounded by enemies. Enemies do not scare me; I worry about our leadership. I am afraid of our leadership… Netanyahu is dragging us down to a binational state and to the end of the Zionist dream.
It would not surprise me if Netanyahu’s unspoken and unspeakable response was something like, “That will not happen because we’ll resort to a final round of ethnic cleansing before it could happen.”
In my imagination Netanyahu shared his thoughts on how to defuse the demographic time-bomb of occupation with a group of deluded, neo-fascist Jewish settlers. One of them said: “Yes, and while we’re completing our ethnic cleansing programme we’ll blow up the Dome of the Rock.” Another said: “And we’ll chop off some Palestinian heads as Lieberman suggested.”
What Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman actually said when as leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party he addressed an election rally in Herzliya on 8 March was the following:
Whoever is with us should give everything as they wish. Whoever is against us, there’s nothing else to do. We have to lift up an axe and remove his head, otherwise we won’t survive here.
Zionist equivalent of “Islamic State”
The question those words provoked in my mind was this.
If Israel continues on its present course will the future see the emergence of a Zionist equivalent of the self-styled “Islamic State“ (IS)?
Because a two-state solution in the shape and form the Palestinians could accept has long been dead, killed by Israel’s colonisation of the occupied West Bank, an enterprise best described as ongoing ethnic cleansing slowly and by stealth, a binational state is the only hope for a political resolution of the conflict.
The creation of a binational state would put under one territorial roof the land of Israel prior to the 1967 war, the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.
In theory and principle, a real and true binational state would be one in which all of its citizens enjoyed equal political and all other civil and human rights.
Because the day is approaching when the Arabs of Israel-Palestine will outnumber the Jews, the creation of a binational state would therefore lead to the de-Zionisation of Palestine and, to quote Meir Dagan again, “the end of the Zionist dream”.
Question: If Netanyahu stays in power, and given that he is not remotely interested in peace on terms the Palestinians could accept whether in two states or one, what are his options for defusing the demographic time-bomb of occupation and keeping Zionism alive?
Muhammad Dahlan – Netanyahu’s instrument
The strategy he has been working on for many months is to have Muhammad Dahlan, the former Fatah leader in Gaza, replace Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority
In Gaza Dahlan plotted with Israel and its American protector to destroy Hamas. But things didn’t go as planned. Hamas became aware of the Israeli- and American-backed Dahlan coup-in-the-making and launched a pre-emptive strike to drive Fatah’s forces out of the Gaza Strip.
Then, in June 2011, Dahlan was expelled from Fatah because of the widespread belief, given voice by Abbas, that he, Dahlan, was the one who did Mossad’s bidding and administered the polonium that killed Arafat.
Three months later, fearing that Dahlan was plotting against him, Abbas ordered the Palestinian police to raid his home and arrest his private armed guards (no doubt some of them were Israeli assets).
In the past year or so, in regular contact with one or two of Netanyahu’s most trusted aides, Dahlan has been planning his comeback and is seeking to replace Abbas as president of the PA.
What does Netanyahu think Dahlan could do for Zionism?
My guess is that be believes Dahlan as president would be prepared to use force to compel the Palestinians to accept whatever crumbs they were offered from Zionism’s table – a few Bantustans here and there which they could call a state if they wished.
Though such a scenario might play well in Netanyahu’s warped mind, it is totally divorced from reality (par for his course). There is no power on earth or anywhere else that could force the occupied and oppressed Palestinians to surrender to Zionism’s will. Their incredible – almost superhuman – steadfastness for the past 67 years says so.
It follows that if the elections about to take place give him the opportunity to cobble together a new coalition to enable him to continue in office as prime minister, Netanyahu will have to come up with another way of defusing the demographic time-bomb of occupation and the real threat it poses to the existence of the Zionist state.
On the basis of his performance in recent weeks I think it’s not unreasonable to speculate that Netanyahu would begin a fourth term as prime minister by entertaining the hope that the creeping transformation of anti-Israelism into anti-Semitism will gather momentum and cause more and more European Jews to flee to Israel.
In my view that’s most unlikely to happen on the scale that would be necessary to defuse the demographic time-bomb of occupation, and that would leave Zionism with only one option – a final round of ethnic cleansing.
A pretext for it could easily be created by half a dozen Israeli agents dressing up as Palestinian terrorists and killing 30 or 40 or more Jews in what would be a bog standard false flag operation. In response, Israel’s military might would be fully mobilised to drive the Palestinians off the occupied West Bank. Those who didn’t flee to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon or wherever would be killed. Butchered. And if Lieberman’s wish was granted, some would be beheaded.
What if the opposition Zionist Union wins?
Question: If the Zionist Union coalition wins more Knesset seats than Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party (the polls suggest that it will), and if (it is a big if) its leader, Isaac Herzog, could then put together a majority that would enable him to replace Netanyahu as prime minister, would that improve the prospects for peace on terms that would provide the Palestinians with an acceptable amount of justice?
…defeat for Netanyahu and victory for Herzog would result in an injection of false and phoney optimism into the international politics of the conflict.
Despite the fact that I believe Herzog really meant what he said when he declared that it was “not too late for peace” and that (unlike Netanyahu) he would put real effort into getting a real peace process going, my answer is no. The truth is that Herzog as prime minister would not be allowed by Israel’s right wing in all of its manifestations to deliver enough in the way of withdrawal from occupation to satisfy the Palestinians’ minimum demands and needs.
So, I say, defeat for Netanyahu and victory for Herzog would result in an injection of false and phoney optimism into the international politics of the conflict. We would have President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron and others telling us that a new page had been turned and that the door to peace was now open.
And that would be nonsense.
If there is ever to be a real peace process it has to start with the governments of the major powers, led by the one in Washington DC, putting Israel on notice that if it does not end its defiance of international law and continues its occupation and colonisation of the West Bank it will be isolated and have sanctions imposed on it.
In my view, the prospects of governments being prepared to use the leverage they have to try to cause Israel to be serious about peace on the basis of justice for the Palestinians and security for all would be significantly improved if Netanyahu remains in power.
Another way of putting it would be to say that Netanyahu, unbalanced if not clinically mad, is, actually, the best public relations man for the Palestinians and their cause!
The latest and the last of the pre-election polls conducted in Israel indicate that Herzog’s Zionist Union will win four more seats in the Knesset than Netanyahu’s currently ruling Likud party, but… According to the Times of Israel, all of Israel’s analysts are of the view that Netanyahu is almost certain to be more successful than Herzog in putting together a new ruling coalition.
Also worth noting is that of the 1,230 Israelis polled, 43 per cent said they wanted Netanyahu to remain as prime minster and 35 per cent preferred Herzog.
Because of Israel’s proportional and very bizarre election system – it enables parties with only three or four seats to make or break governments and therefore gives them enormous bargaining power – the haggling to determine who will be Israel’s next prime minister will probably go on for weeks. My guess is that Herzog will be unable to put together a big enough coalition to give him a majority in the Knesset and that Netanyahu will get a fourth term as prime minister.
For the reasons stated above I hope I am right…