It seems the world is now closer than ever to witnessing the demise of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, as it has always been, the Palestinian people are now presented as a side issue that only become important when rockets are being fired.
Slated to replace the Likud Party’s Benjamin Netanyahu, as Prime Minister, is the Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennet along with Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, in a power sharing agreement. This removal of the right-wing Netanyahu has been praised the world over, almost giving the sense that somehow all of the issues with Israel will suddenly vanish with the demise of “Bibi”.
The reality is, however, that the flimsy anti-Netanyahu government proposed by Yair Lapid may even make things worse for the Palestinian cause, if it actually holds together – and that is a big if.
Whilst Netanyahu’s alignment with the far-right Religious Zionism Party, headed by the extremist lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich, brought out the ugly face of Israel, the new historic coalition will look to hide it and present Israel as a pragmatic partner to the United States. However, this covering up of reality before the world, and also the focus they are looking to place on the economy, will not hold for long.
Naftali Bennet is an ardent supporter of illegal Israeli settlements, perhaps even more so than Benjamin Netanyahu; he also believes that talk of any viable two-State solution is beyond the pale. Although Netanyahu claims that Naftali Bennet is forming a “left-wing government”, the very opposite is true. Yes, there are left-leaning parties like Meretz which are to be included in the coalition, however, they will never be able to implement any real change on the ground for Palestinians.
In reality, three major opposition figures who are further to the right of Netanyahu will be part of this new “left-wing government”, as the current Premier calls it. They are Naftali Bennet, Gideon Saar and Avigdor Lieberman. All three of these far-right figures are opponents of a Palestinian State, support the Judaization of Jerusalem, advocate for a more lethal attack on Gaza, and support sustaining the illegal siege on Gaza as well as the occupation of the West Bank.
The most significant development, which is being praised as a real breakthrough in Palestinian-Jewish relations in Israel, is the introduction of Mansour Abbas’ Ra’am Party into the new government. Ra’am may well make history as the first ever party (that is of Palestinian citizens of Israel) to enter a coalition government. However, Ra’am will be the only Party as part of Israel’s coalition which will not receive a Cabinet position. It is also no reflection of any Palestinian popular support for the Israeli government, as Mansour Abbas also considered working with Likud and has been physically forced out from Palestinian demonstrations.
The narrative which is being primed for release, is that Israel’s parties from left to right have come together and even included “Israeli Arabs”, as if to make the potential incoming government seem somewhat progressive. The reality is that if Netanyahu manages to break up this coalition before it is voted in by lawmakers sometime within the next week (roughly), he may have a much greater chance at pulling off a victory at a fifth round of elections, due to a potential drop in support for the many political parties which have upset much of their constituents.
The only real potential change that may occur, when it comes to the Palestinians, is the dealings between the United States and Israel, as a result of this new government. Many politicians in the Democratic Party are in staunch opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu, especially as he was the closest ally to former US President Donald Trump. Their loathing of Netanyahu’s government is not due to his oppressive policies practiced against the Palestinian people, nor is it due to the fact that he is right-wing. Although Naftali Bennet may be a difficult character for Democratic Party supporters to accept, Yair Lapid is likely someone they could stomach, but this will all depend on the way US media frames this new government.
If Israel’s proposed anti-Netanyahu coalition does succeed, one thing is for certain, they will attempt at all costs to shift focus away from the Palestinian issue and they have stated that their priorities will be to do with the economy. If tensions again escalate with the Palestinian people, during this coalition’s time in power, it is also likely that we may see a desperate push from the Biden Administration to lock down some sort of “two-state solution”, using the Palestinian Authority and perhaps even factoring in Mohammed Dahlan.
All is now hard to predict, but one thing is for sure, this new coalition will be no better for Palestinians, at best. As for the worst-case scenario, well, that’s not too hard to imagine with all that’s been committed against the Palestinian people in plain view with barely an international acknowledgment.