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Political turbulence causes Israel’s mask to slip

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama on September 30, 2016 [REUTERS/Pool via Reuters TV]
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama on September 30, 2016 [REUTERS/Pool via Reuters TV]

Last night, The Guardian published an editorial that succinctly wraps up the repeated blows to Israel’s normally well-oiled public relations machine that has allowed the mask of the Middle East’s “only democracy” to slip and expose the brutal and ugly face of Israel’s colonial occupation, apartheid and disingenuous intent towards the two-state solution.

Before last year came to a close, Israel launched into a tantrum following a UN Security Council vote that passed a landmark resolution declaring all Israeli settlements to be illegal. Not only did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lose his rag with the outgoing administration of US President Barack Obama, but he also said that New Zealand, which voted to pass the bill, had made a “declaration of war” against the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead an immobile Palestinian who was lying on the ground. In outrage at the verdict, “hooligans” descended on Israeli courts to try and intimidate judges to soften the sentence. News also emerged of Israeli politicians and civilians demanding that Azaria be pardoned, showing that Palestinian life has no value.

Perhaps the most scandalous piece of news to come out were the revelations that staff at the Israeli embassy in London were trying to “take down” British politicians seen as not serving Israel’s interests. In an investigative report by Al Jazeera called “The Lobby”, the Israeli mission was exposed as having made attempts to attain a pernicious influence over British MPs and senior politicians, even dubbing Foreign Minister Boris Johnson an “idiot”. Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev tried to brush off the scandal and apportion it to a low level employee, but the damage of the implications of Israeli influence had already been done.

Domestically in Israel, the net result of all the above scandals and policy failures, all attributed to the Netanyahu administration, in addition to the fact that the Israeli premier himself is now being investigated for corruption, has been a reactionary defensiveness that has shifted Israeli society further to the right. This rightward swing will likely be capitalised upon by an increasingly bellicose Netanyahu who, if he survives the corruption allegations, will likely seek to rely on the US administration of Donald Trump, due to take office in a little over a week.

Trump has already made clear that he was against the UNSC resolution against settlements, and has strongly suggested that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in a clear and inflammatory signal that he would recognise the holy city as Israel’s “undivided capital”. Should this come to pass, and the Palestinian’s right to their capital, never mind their state, be snatched away from them, it could render the entire Palestinian-Israeli peace process null and void, leading to decades more of violence, instability and an increasingly racist Israeli state.

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