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The Israeli political circus

June 13, 2021 at 9:53 am

(L to R) Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, and former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, 13 June 2021 [GIL COHEN-MAGEN,MENAHEM KAHANA,DEBBIE HILL/POOL/AFP/Getty Images]

Is the Israeli election circus finally coming to an end? I wouldn’t bank on it quite yet, for two related reasons.

Since 2019, there have been no less than four general elections in Israel, all inconclusive. This is partly due to Israel’s electoral system, which uses proportional representation.

A confusing array of different parties competes for influence, across the whole spectrum of Israeli political life: from the right to the hard-right, on to the far-right and the ultra-right.

All are racist parties, and all agree on one overriding principle: maintaining the domination of Zionism, which means continuing to enforce the rule of Jewish supremacy in the land of Palestine.

Even Israel’s so-called “centrist” and allegedly “left-wing” Zionist parties are openly racist. All support the principle and practice of the “Jewish state,” in a country which has historically never been exclusively Jewish.

But because of a complicated and boring series of personal animosities and rivalries with Israel’s outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a large number of politicians from right-wing parties in Israel’s parliament – his previous coalition partners, ministers, and even former fellow Likud party colleagues – have all fallen out with him for one petty political reason or another.

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All of them still support Netanyahu’s racist anti-Palestinian policies.

But after four inconclusive elections, Israel now finally seems on the brink of bringing in a prime minister. The proposed new government would consist of a coalition of far-right, right-wing, and “centrist” parties. It is set to be led by far-right racist Naftali Bennett, who openly boasts about how many Arabs he has killed.

But, as I said, the reasons that I think it’s too soon to write Netanyahu off are two-fold.

Firstly, the final dice has not yet been cast. The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, is set to vote on the proposed new coalition government led by Bennett on Sunday. It is still not too late for Netanyahu – a long-term political survivor – to pull some trick out of the bag.

He could yet peel off a single politician from the fragile new coalition, which is all it would take for the new government to be strangled even before birth. Were that to happen, the most likely outcome would be a fifth election.

The second reason that I think it’s too soon to write Netanyahu off is simply this: even if Bennett and his allies win the vote on Sunday, the same dynamics are not going away.

Netanyahu is not ready to step down Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Netanyahu is not ready to step down – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The alliance between Bennett and his main coalition partner Yair Lapid is extremely fragile. It has a tiny majority of one seat. And it is a partnership of parties united by only one thing (apart from Zionism) – a desire to overthrow Netanyahu as prime minister.

Netanyahu could easily go into opposition and still return to power before too long. It’s true that he is mired in legal troubles over his various corruption scandals. He may be going to jail. But if so, that’s a long way off. I would not rule out a future return to power just yet.

But all this just illustrates what a farce Israeli elections are. There is no democracy under Israel’s apartheid system. For Palestinians, this is a military dictatorship. When you talk to Palestinians they will tell you: it makes no difference to them which Israeli party rules, they are all racist, settler-colonial parties.

Even the non-Zionist, majority-Palestinian parties inside Israel are weak, ineffective, and ultimately neutered by the system imposed on them. Palestinian citizens of Israel (politicians, activists, and public figures) perceived to be a genuine threat to Israel’s apartheid system – such as Haneen Zoabi and Raed Salah – are hounded out of public life, harassed, banned, or jailed.

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It is irrelevant to Palestinians which Zionist political party rules their lives. As long as the despotic, racist system of Zionism rules Palestine, there will be no peace. It is irrelevant whether it is the Zionist “left” or the Zionist “right” – the problem is settler-colonialism, with its necessary values of violence, racism, and apartheid.

It is irrelevant to Palestinians, because irrespective of which configuration of parties rules Israel, they will still be dominated by a violent military dictatorship in the West Bank, live under an inhuman military siege in the Gaza Strip, suffer from Israeli apartheid inside “Israel” and live expelled from their homeland in refugee camps in surrounding countries – solely and exclusively because they are not Jewish.

That is the reality of Zionism. And that is what Palestinians are fighting. The Israeli political circus changes none of that.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.