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A message to the Arab world: do not welcome Netanyahu or his fellow extremists

February 2, 2023 at 11:30 am

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

When the Israeli occupation forces attacked Jenin refugee camp last Thursday, they predicted a quick operation during which an armed Palestinian resistance cell in the camp would be arrested or killed. Israel believed that the entry of its troops behind a hail of bullets would push the Palestinians to hide or flee, leaving the attacking forces free to carry out their mission quickly and within the specified timeframe.

However, the camp woke up to this invasion, and the fighters rushed to its defence; the occupation forces were met with heavy fire and placed in a dangerous position. Moreover, the local residents used stones and Molotov cocktails against the Israeli forces, whose wild firing was deadly and killed ten martyrs. This prompted anger and a strong reaction from regional and international parties. More important was the reaction of young Palestinians, especially Khairy Alqam, who shot at settlers in the illegal Neve Yaakov settlement in East Jerusalem, followed by an attack by a boy in the Silwan neighbourhood.

According to Israeli security agents, the targeted cell in Jenin was a ticking time bomb, but even in Israeli circles, especially among military analysts, there are major doubts about the army’s version of events. This debate is important, because the Israeli government has expanded the circle of bloodshed dramatically and in broad daylight. It believes that in doing so, it increases its deterrence factor and stops Palestinians from carrying out legitimate resistance attacks against the occupation forces and illegal settlers in the occupied West Bank.

The result, though, was the opposite of what Benjamin Netanyahu’s government coalition, including far-right extremists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, wanted to achieve. The government found itself facing a serious security predicament. Israel’s violent repression and shedding of Palestinian blood leads to violent reactions from the Palestinian people, and support for armed resistance increases. The most dangerous problem for Israel is that lone wolf attacks can neither be predicted nor dealt with adequately by the Israeli security services, especially in occupied Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories occupied since 1948.

READ: Israel priority to normalise ties with Arabs before peace with Palestine: Netanyahu

The measures that the government announced as a response to the Palestinian resistance operations reflect the Israeli confusion and inability to deal with the situation. It seems as if it has not learnt anything from previous experience; that punishment and Israeli escalation only leads to more tension and Palestinian responses proportionate to the level of the escalation. The more that Israel kills Palestinians, the more motive the Palestinian resistance has to hit back. Each successful lone wolf attack becomes an inspiration for others to copy.

What Israel has not yet understood is that quick-fixes do not solve the problem; fleeting initial successes fade quickly because the chronic oppression remains both present and widespread. As long as the occupation continues and Israel’s crimes are ongoing; and as long as the main concern of Israeli governments — of which this is the most extreme in history — is to complete the settlement project and eliminate the idea of Palestinian independence that is based on ending the occupation, there will always be Palestinian resistance, which can fluctuate in intensity at will.

US support for Israel, including a commitment to its security, cannot save Israel from drowning in conflict. Even America’s assistance in the normalisation process with the Arab world will not help the occupation state. Every time Israel escalates its aggression and attacks against the Palestinian people, it contributes to the embarrassment of the Arab capitals that have signed normalisation agreements.

This Israeli-created impasse has no practical solution without a political horizon that depends on the division of the land into two states and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the accepted border in place on 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Today, Netanyahu is trying to make more of a breakthrough in his normalisation with the Arab world, and he has his sights set on Saudi Arabia, which has announced that it will not normalise relations with Israel as long as there is no visible progress towards the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. Any development in this would be an important political achievement for Netanyahu to offset against his security failures and the problems he faces domestically, with a strong opposition undermining the stability of his coalition.

The ideal way out for him is to turn towards the Arab world. This is what was promised by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his recent visit to the region, including Israel. He focused on supporting the occupation state in terms of security and expanding the circle of its normalisation with the Arab world.

The Arab states, therefore, especially in the Gulf — which Israel is interested in for economic reasons — bear a great responsibility for curbing Israeli aggression and crimes against the Palestinian people. We are not asking much; just for them to freeze relations with Israel within their current framework, not to expand them, and not to take any action that helps Netanyahu make political gains at the expense of Palestinian blood.

The message to the Arab world is thus very simple: don’t welcome Netanyahu and his fellow extremists in Israel’s far-right, racist government. Demand that he stops his attacks on the Palestinians. Show some solidarity with our people, who are victims of the occupation and its violent crimes. Don’t normalise relations with Israel. Don’t normalise Palestinian pain.

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