Middle East Monitor / July 24, 2023
A Washington Post columnist warned on Sunday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the “biggest security threat” facing Israel.
“Even before Donald Trump was elected president, I wrote that he was America’s No. 1 security threat. Today, I am convinced that Israel’s No. 1 security threat comes from its Trump-like prime minister: Benjamin Netanyahu,” wrote Max Boot.
“Bibi [Netanyahu] doesn’t seem to care that his policies are undermining Israeli democracy, risking Israel’s close relationship with the United States, and might even be sparking another violent uprising — a third intifada — among West Bank Palestinians. Like Trump, he seems to care about nothing but holding onto power, and his radical policies are the price of keeping together a coalition of far-right extremist parties.”
The writer pointed out that US President Joe Biden is “a true friend of Israel” who has been trying to warn Netanyahu off the “destructive path” he is on, but to no avail. He cited Biden’s telephone call with Netanyahu last week and his invitation to visit the White House. Biden’s offer to meet, he said, was a conciliatory gesture that dismayed Israel’s opposition parties.
“Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul bill, which had been shelved in the spring after massive protests brought Israel to a standstill, is now moving rapidly through the Knesset, despite mass protests and threats from Israeli military reservists to refuse to report for duty if it passes,” wrote The Post columnist. “If the bill is approved, which might happen as soon as this week, Israel will lose one of its few checks on majoritarian tyranny, because the Israeli Supreme Court will no longer be able to override legislation on the grounds that it is not ‘reasonable’.”
Boot also warned that Netanyahu and his far-right cabinet “are likely to have a free hand to enact even more of their ultranationalist agenda despite their ultrathin electoral majority, with dire consequences not only for Israeli democracy but also for Israel’s security.”
He lamented that the Israeli cabinet last month gave Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, an ultranationalist advocate of settler-colonialism, almost all control over the future growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. All settlements are illegal under international law.
“This is the same Smotrich who said earlier this year: ‘There is no such thing as a Palestinian nation. There is no Palestinian history. There is no Palestinian language’.” Smotrich also called for a Palestinian village to be completely wiped off the map, noted Boot, and has an “alarming goal to double the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, from 500,000 to 1 million, which will further exacerbate an already volatile situation.”
He concluded that the Palestinians, nearly 30 years since signing the Oslo accords, “are losing hope” that they will ever have their own nation state. “Biden is trying to reason with Netanyahu, but Bibi isn’t listening to reason, and both Israelis and Palestinians are likely to pay a steep price for the prime minister’s destructive and deluded policies.”