Bennett coalition on last legs as Netanyahu prepares return

The Israeli coalition government is unlikely to survive long, ushering in yet another election campaign (Asraf Amra - APA Images)

Omar Karmi

The Electronic Intifada  /  May 25, 2022

Naftali Bennett’s coalition government is entering the final furlong before inevitable and well-deserved oblivion.

The coalition is now a minority in the Israeli parliament after Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, an MP for the Meretz Party, last week decided she could no longer continue in a government that “shamefully harasses the society I came from.”

Zoabi is a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

One could ask, what did she expect? This is a government led by a prime minister who bragged about having “killed lots of Arabs … and there’s no problem with that.”

But then, this unlikely coalition was never going to last long. It was predicated on a shared opposition to Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu and little else.

The former Israeli prime minister is still facing corruption charges, but his three cases appear to have gone cold. Always a good pantomime villain – all evil smiles and sweaty palms rubbing together – Netanyahu is now waiting in the wings.

His opposition Likud Party, still by far the biggest in parliament, is already working on a party platform. The party is fear mongering about how “Arabs are taking over,” and is proposing to jail anyone raising the Palestinian flag, to deport the families of anyone carrying out attacks against Israelis, and strip citizenship from anyone demonstrating during war, whatever that means.

Bennett, in response, has been flexing for his own base. The coalition government is apparently considering similar policies, including deporting families of “terrorists” to Gaza and demolishing the homes of relatives of Palestinian citizens involved in attacks, a policy hitherto confined to officially occupied territory.

Clearly, these policies need a lot of fleshing out. For instance, when deporting a family, does one deport only the immediate family? Or are grandparents and cousins included? What about pets?

But the point isn’t the detail. The point is the fear and loathing.

Unhinged

Any new Israeli election campaign for a 37th government – that is precisely one new government every two years in the 74 years since Israel came into existence on the back of the expulsion of a majority of the Palestinian people – will be something to behold.

The great thing about Israeli politics is it is completely unhinged and unashamedly racist.

Thus the Likud Party is assaulting the Bennett-led coalition at every turn and mostly because of its sympathies for the devil – that is, the Palestinians.

The coalition government is slammed for a demonstration at Ben Gurion University, where Palestinian flags were waved – a “shame and disgrace,” the Likud tweeted.

Note please how the Likud calls the Palestinian flag the “PA flag,” because, of course, Palestinians don’t have an identity so they can’t have a proper flag.

Note also how the Likud excoriates the current coalition for depending on “supporters of terrorism” – in what can only be a reference to Mansour Abbas’ United Arab List.

Because of course Palestini … oops, Arabs are terrorists, even when they decide to prop up a far-right Israeli prime minister.

It is clear that for the Likud, the Bennett coalition – with its shoot to kill orders, its opposition to negotiations with the Palestinians; its opposition to Palestinian statehood, its support for never-ceasing settlement expansion and its ongoing attempts at the forcible transfer of Palestinians from their homes, whether in Jerusalem or in Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank – is simply too soft on those pesky Palestinians.

So the campaign will be a real washing of Israel’s blue and white underwear. Get out the popcorn and watch a mob of bigots sling mud at each other while even mildly reasonable voices slip away unheard.

Double standards

Fresh from protesting Russia’s three-month-old invasion of Ukraine – where international law has been invoked to justify a boycott on trade, divestment from whole industries as well as a slew of punishing sanctions – surely no Western politician can be so myopic as not to identify the same remedies for Israel’s 74-year-old assault on the Palestinian people.

Take a bow, Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, who, in a speech at the opening of the UN’s Human Rights Council in March, did exactly that.

No, of course he didn’t.

Instead Blinken, with no hint of double standards at all, demanded that the rights council end its “anti-Israel bias” and the “unfair and disproportionate focus” on Israel.

This in a speech that also included a paragraph on how the “universal” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was there because, “there are certain rights that every person, everywhere, is entitled to enjoy.”

Unless, of course, you are Palestinian. In that case you cannot enjoy your right to self-determination, to statehood or to return.

You cannot enjoy the right to marry who you want. Or decide how to commemorate the past.

Or the right to stay in your own home.

Or even to expect to have the same rights.

At least we can always count on the Europeans, who have withheld aid from Israel … hang on, no, that’s wrong too. The EU is withholding aid from the Palestinians because they are using school textbooks that “adhere to UNESCO” guidelines.

Well done, Brussels. Useful as ever.

Omar Karmi is an independent journalist