A Coalition Whose Only Common Factor is Opposition to Netanyahu – Meet Israel’s New Prime Minister
The Zionist ‘Left’ Joins Hands with the pro-Transfer Far-Right in Israel’s New Government
The following article first appeared in Weekly Worker 10 June 2021 as House Built on Sand
On Sunday, assuming the coalition of eight parties holds together and there are no defections, the hardline, former settler leader, Naftali Bennett, will be sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Israel. However if anyone believes that this coalition will put an end to the run of four General Elections in two years, then they are likely to be disappointed. It would be a brave person who gave this government even a year before it breaks up.
Netanyahu doing his best to play the Arab card with the inclusion of the conservative Ra’am Party in the new coalition
Netanyahu, the original Donald Trump, whose incitement is widely believed to have led to the assassination of Israeli Labor Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, is not going quietly. With his imminent departure from office, Netanyahu can hear the sound of prison doors clanging behind him. Currently he is facing 3 charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
On June 3 Netanyahu tweeted that ‘Bennett sold the Negev to RAAM! All right-wing Knesset members must oppose this dangerous left-wing government.’ RAAM is a reference to the one Arab party in the coalition, the United Arab List, a conservative Islamist party headed by Mansour Abbas, which broke away from the left wing and nationalist Joint List dominated by Hadash, the Israeli Communist Party.
Speaking to the right-wing Channel 20 Netanyahu called Bennett “a habitual liar” and that the emergent government was “more dangerous than the [2005 Gaza] Disengagement and Oslo [Accords].” For Netanyahu to call anyone ‘a liar’ is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Mansour Abbas and Netanyahu with whom he had previously been negotiating
Netanyahu accused Bennett of engaging in a “liquidation sale” of the country and claimed the incoming government was in league with the so-called “deep state.” All the paranoid racism and conspiracy theories of Trump rolled into one by the master thief himself.
“The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them in buses.”
None of it was true and in fact the turnout by Jews was higher than that by Arabs but it did the trick. Right-wing voters did come out in droves and they voted for Likud.
Bennett has responded by asserting that the government he hopes to lead “is 10 degrees to the right of the current one” whilst appealing to Netanyahu to “let go” that “People are allowed to vote for a government even if you do not lead it.” Netanyahu, is Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister at more than 15 years.
Israel is a Jewish Supremacist state and it is natural for political leaders to argue as to who is the most anti-Arab. In is this is what right-wing means. All parties, including the Israeli Labour Party do it. Isaac Herzog, the new President of Israel, when leader of the ILP was a past master at dog whistling. He told Labour MKs that
“A false impression exists that we take the needs of Palestinians into account before the needs of the State of Israel,”
He also told Labor activists that
“his faction’s MKs needed to correct an impression that they are always “Arab lovers…. God forbid, and without giving the impression – from what I have heard after meeting with the Israel public – that we always like Arabs.”
Of course this was true. The Israeli Labour Party was the original party of anti-Arab incitement and the Nakba, the expulsion of ¾ million Palestinians in 1947/8. The ILP was the party that instituted military rule over Israeli Palestinians until 1966.
But what is the truth? Is Bennett about to lead the Tel Aviv Soviet? Is he preparing to storm Israel’s equivalent of the Winter Palace?
The new Israeli government, if it comes to power, is no less right-wing than Netanyahu’s putative coalition government with the exception of the neo-Nazi Jewish Power led by Itamar ben Gvir, a disciple of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who believed in the expulsion of all Palestinians from Israel and the Occupied Territories.
What has infuriated Netanyahu and the Israeli Right is that, for the first time in its history, an Arab party is a formal part of a government coalition, albeit that it won’t be taking ministerial posts. The irony is that Netanyahu also held talks with Mansour Abbas, in order to persuade him to support his coalition whilst remaining outside the government. This however was vetoed by Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionism bloc which includes Jewish Power. They refused to have ‘terrorists’ (for which read Arabs) associated with the government.
Bezalel Smotrich – leader of Jewish Zionism
Netanyahu and Likud have therefore focussed on ‘persuading’ individual MKs from Yamina, the party that Bennett heads, to refuse to support the new government. For Netanyahu, ‘persuasion’ should be interpreted in the same sense as the mafia would use the term when convincing their clients to had over ‘protection money’.
Bennett has already been depicted in a kaffiyeh and with a swastika and his picture has been burned. Social media is full of death threats against him and his family. He is being called a traitor and a court Jew. At least 4 members of Yamina have been provided with extra security by Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.
Protests outside Yamina MK Orbach
Idit Silman MK can’t even send her son to school because of the threats. Six leading religious-Zionist rabbis, led by Chaim Druckman issued a letter on Saturday calling on the public to do everything in their power to prevent the new government taking power as the religious right and the Ultra-Orthodox parties – Shas and United Torah Judaism – try to come to terms with the fact that they will not be in government for the first time in a generation.
Yitzhak Rabin is widely believed to have been assassinated as a result of his decision to rely on the support of an Arab Party‘Everything in their power’ should be interpreted as meaning just that. There is no doubt that Yigal Amir, Rabin’s assassin had received authorisation from unnamed rabbis, as well as the declaration that he was a din rodef, a traitor.
Silman complained that a car with a loudspeaker on the roof followed her vehicle around town. The Army Radio reported that her children had been “banned” from attending their youth movements. In Zionism attacking children is seen as a legitimate way of getting at their parents. Not for nothing is Israel known as ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’
Silman and Orbach MKs Yamina
Those who think I am exaggerating should recall Richard Goldstone, the South Africa Jewish Judge who chaired the UN Inquiry which issued a Report accusing Israel of war crimes in Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9 was banned from attending his grandson’s bar mitveh. It was only after an outcry that South Africa’s Zionists backed off and Goldstone was allowed to attend. But one result of the attacks was that Goldstone attempted to have the Report withdrawn although the other two members of the Inquiry refused to support him.
The head of Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, issued a rare warning this week that Netanyahu’s campaign of incitement could lead to political violence.
“This discourse may be interpreted among certain groups or individuals as one that allows violent and illegal activity and could even lead to harm to individuals,”
It is a measure of how far to the racist right the Israeli state has gone that what is in effect a choice between two far-right coalitions is subject to such tactics. The proposed coalition government consists of
right wing settlers in Jeruslem
Yamina, a religious settler party which has 6 seats, one MK Amichai Chikli having already defected. Bennett was former head of the Yesha Settlers’ Council. When it comes to anti-Arab comments Bennett can outdo anything that Netanyahu has to offer.
In 2013 he said that Palestinian “terrorists should be killed, not released”, and in 2018 – the same year Israeli snipers were murdering unarmed Palestinian demonstrators at the Gaza fence – Bennett said Israeli troops should have a “shoot to kill” policy, including for minors. Asked about the army targeting children, he replied: “They are not children. They are terrorists. We are fooling ourselves.”
Bennett is also famous for saying ‘I’ve Killed Lots Of Arabs In My Life And There’s No Problem With That”
Gideon Saar’s New Hope, a breakaway from Likud has 6 seats and is to the right of Netanyahu.
Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beteinu has 7 seats. A secular party of the far-Right, it depends mainly on Russian voters. Lieberman can only be described as a fascist who is on record as saying that Israeli Palestinians who don’t take a loyalty oath should be either expelled or beheaded. He has also said that it would be better to drown thousands of Palestinian prisoners in the Dead Sea if possible, ‘since that’s the lowest point in the world.’
Yesh Atid with 17 votes is headed by Yair Lapid. In Israeli terms it is described as a ‘centrist’ party but in Britain it would be on the Tory Right. Lapid is, in the unlikely event that the coalition lasts, scheduled to take over as Prime Minister in two years time. However that is highly unlikely.
Benny Gantz, leader of what is left of Blue and White with 8 seats, entered the last government as Defence Minister with Netanyahu. He was supposed to become Prime Minister by rotation but Netanyahu outwitted him. He is supporting the new government and will retain his position as Defence Minister.
The Zionist Left, or what’s left of it, has had no compunction in entering the coalition with the sole purpose of removing Netanyahu. The Israeli Labor Party, led by Merav Michaeli, the grand daughter of the famous Zionist collaborator with the Nazis in Hungary, Rudolf Kasztner, has 7 seats.
Meretz, led by Nitzan Horowitz, which in Zionist terms is seen as far-left but in Britain would be seen as right-wing Labour, at best, has 6 seats. It too has agreed to go into coalition even though gay rights are supposed to be its hot issue and the coalition includes anti-gay parties.
It says everything about the Zionist ‘left’ that it is prepared to enter a coalition of the far-Right under a hard right former settler leader who has no intention of agreeing to any peace deal with the Palestinians and who is on record as favouring the annexation of the West Bank.
Mansour Abbas, who just scraped into the Knesset with 4 seats, has signed the coalition agreement but he is effectively supporting the government from the outside. It is after all too much to expect an Israeli Arab party to actually hold ministerial posts. Abbas will instead accept the Chairmanship of two Knesset Committees.
What Abbas hopes to gain is extra funding for Israel’s Palestinian communities, the recognition of three ‘unrecognised’ Bedouin villages in the Negev, which means they will then receive basic facilities such as electricity, schools and running water, and a repeal of a law which heavily penalises illegal construction in Arab towns. Since land is so scarce in Palestinian Israeli towns, and since building permits are hard to come by, people build homes regardless and the authorities regularly demolish them. Whether or not he manages to secure these concessions remains to be seen.
I have little doubt that if Bennett manages to survive to the weekend and no further Yamina MKs are peeled off that the government is not likely to last. The pressure from those even further to the right will be immense. Abbas too is likely to come under massive pressure from Israeli Palestinians, especially if there are further attacks on the Al Aqsa mosque and worshippers.
Already Netanyahu has supported a new March of the Flags by thousands of settler youth through Arab East Jerusalem. The march has been rerouted away from the Arab quarter for the time being but there will be pressure for the right to demonstrate that they have every right to hold a pogrom in Arab Jerusalem.
Also the question of the evictions at Sheikh Jarrar is looming. Already Attorney General Mendelbit has announced that the government will not be opposing the evictions as the racist laws which allow the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem are quite clear. Which is true. Jews can reclaim houses they once owned in East Jerusalem before Jerusalem was partitioned between East and West in 1948. However Palestinians are not able to reclaim homes they abandoned in West Jerusalem.
The justice of evicting Arabs for the crime of not being Jewish poses no problem to Israel’s Supreme Court. Whether the new governing coalition will step in seems doubtful but if Jerusalem explodes as a result, then Abbas may yet be forced to pull his support for the coalition.