Middle East Monitor / March 4, 2020
Benjamin Netanyahu’s apparent victory in the Israeli General Election was a harsh blow to the PLO Committee to Communicate with the Israeli Public and to everyone else who counted on the occupation state moving towards peace. Instead, it has gone further to the right.
Some predictions point towards a fourth election, but Netanyahu might succeed in forming a government after his Likud party won 36 seats compared to the 33 won by his main rival Benny Gantz. He will need the support of other parties to gain the 61 seats required for a majority in the Knesset. If he gets them, we will see the continuation of his policies in the occupied West Bank: settlement expansion and the annexation of the Jordan Valley, Area C and the settlement blocs.
In the Gaza Strip, we can expect to see Netanyahu following the same policy of threats to liquidate Hamas and the resistance, without engaging in another military offensive. However, he does not have the ability to implement this due to the high cost of such measures, which have the effect of increasing the strength and capabilities of the resistance groups.
Those who count on others to change their situation and conditions always lose in the end. The Palestinians who relied on the election in Israel for change to happen are disappointed. However, those who count on changing themselves, learning from their mistakes, planning, and investing in their capabilities will succeed eventually.
The election propaganda from all sides in Israel did not mention the Palestinians other than in terms of annexation and a war on Gaza; there was nothing about an end to the occupation. PLO Secretary General Sa’eb Erekat believes that the Israeli public voted to continue the occupation and settlements and not to give freedom to the Palestinian people. Freedom, though, is taken, not given.
What Netanyahu will do does not require a long explanation or any deep analysis. His ways are known, and he has always imposed misfortune and greater hardship upon the Palestinians. They have long experience with the Israeli leader’s scheming and malice, and know of his cunning.
He will work to cement Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel; continue to demolish Palestinian homes; enforce the expulsion and displacement of the indigenous population; and prevent refugees from returning to their homeland and property, even though it is their legitimate right. In his view there is no room for their return, and he does not accept that it is illegal to build settlements and annex the large settlement blocs.
Obviously, he pushes the colonial Zionist narrative, fuels the Palestinian division as much as he can, and relies on power, aggression and Israel’s “security” claims to annex the West Bank without its people, plundering its wealth and capabilities, and arresting and killing young men and women at checkpoints and during raids across occupied cities.
Netanyahu will push to make the Palestinian cause merely a humanitarian issue, to be resolved economically, and for this reason he will continue to increase the number of work permits issued by Israel. Livelihoods will be hit if there is any resistance action in the West Bank.
Annexation pushed by Netanyahu will give Israel more than 82 per cent of historic Palestine — it is already in his hands — and he will work to empty Area C of Palestinians. This is the main reason for his annexation proposals endorsed by Donald Trump’s “peace plan”.
What is required of the Palestinians after Netanyahu’s victory? They have to face the challenges and rearrange their internal affairs; cancel the Oslo Accords and what came with them, specifically security coordination with the Israeli occupation authorities; and agree as soon as possible on a united national programme. The clock is ticking and there is no time for looking backwards or criticising those who are slow to invest at this critical juncture in our history.
This is the first contribution of Khalid Maali to Middle East Monitor