Last Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended his planned judicial overhaul which would have had the effect of weakening Israel’s judiciary. He said that the necessary legislation would go ahead sooner or later, but he would give a chance for talks to calm the ongoing polarisation within Israeli society.
Netanyahu’s far-right political partners accepted his announcement, not least the head of Otzma Yehudit Party, the far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. He had threatened to quit the coalition government should Netanyahu back down on the promised change of the law.
Ben-Gvir clarified why he had accepted what Netanyahu did last week. “The reform will pass,” he tweeted. “The national guard will be established. The budget that I demanded for the National Security Ministry will pass in full. Nobody will scare us. Nobody will succeed in changing the decision of the people.”
The far-right extremist also circulated a written agreement he had with Netanyahu to allow the formation of a National Guard reporting directly to him. The paramilitary unit will mainly by used by the settler minister to implement his settlement agenda, including the destruction of Palestinian property and theft of Palestinian land.
Labor Party MK Gilad Kariv criticised Netanyahu’s promise to Ben-Gvir. Such a force, he insisted, “must be under the police, rather than under the control of [far-right group] Lehava and the remnants of the Kahanists.” This was a reference to followers of the late far-right extremist anti-Arab rabbi Meir Kahane, of whom Ben-Gvir is one.
Ben-Gvir stressed that he was planning to establish a police unit to confront Palestinians in Israel when they demonstrate against the occupation government’s policies and aggression in the occupied Palestinian territories. He cited what happened in May 2021 when the Palestinians in Israel took to the streets and destabilised the country during an Israeli offensive against Gaza.
According to former Israel Police chief Moshe Karadi, Ben-Gvir would be forming “a private militia for his political needs” and would “recruit the Hilltop Youth” extremist settlers to its ranks.
This is a prime example of how Israeli leaders try to solve their crises at the expense of the Palestinians by inflicting more suffering and pain on them. There are many more examples.
In response to an alleged Palestinian shooting attack at Huwara military checkpoint, for example, Israeli MK and the apartheid occupation state’s 17th Permanent Representative to the UN Danny Danon tweeted last week that, “The only way to stop Palestinian attacks is to close all Palestinian shops along Huwara Highway.”
He did not consider the difficulties inflicted by the Israeli checkpoint on Palestinian life, and how the occupation forces serving at the checkpoint are choking the life out of the local Palestinians while entering or leaving the village of Huwara. And it clearly didn’t occur to him that such collective punishment is a crime against humanity.
Nor did Danon mention the attack by a mob of Israeli Jewish settlers on the village before the alleged Palestinian attack, when settlers set fire to homes, cars and other property and killed a Palestinian man and wounded about 400 others. He did not stop to think that removing the checkpoint would end the likelihood of any Palestinian attack on Israelis at this spot; no, all of the Palestinian shops have to be closed down instead, affecting the lives of hundreds of people.
One of the most frequent Israeli violations against the Palestinians is the imposition of strict measures on them during Jewish holidays. The occupied territories are sealed off, for several days at a time. When Israeli Jews celebrate their holidays, they do not consider the potentially life-saving requirement for the Palestinians to have even relative freedom of movement.
What’s more, it has become a norm for far-right Israeli Jews to celebrate a holiday by desecrating Muslim holy sites in Palestine, mainly the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa Mosque. This year, the Jewish Passover holiday starts on 5 April, in the middle of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
According to Al Jazeera Mubashir TV, fanatical settler groups have promised to pay NIS25,000 to any settler who slaughters a sheep inside the third holiest place in Islam — Al-Aqsa — and NIS2,500 for any extremist settler detained for attempting to take a sheep inside the mosque compound. These fanatics care for nobody but themselves, and show extreme disrespect for the Palestinians, their holidays and their holy places. During all of their regular violations, the settlers are protected by the Israeli occupation forces, even though they and the settlements in which they live are illegal under international law.
Netanyahu is only in power because of his coalition with the fanatical settlers and their parties. His Likud party accepted the conditions of the far-right settler blocs for joining his coalition, including the establishment of new settlements and the expansion of existing settlements, along with increased oppression of the people of occupied Palestine.
The Zionist state of Israel was created at the cost of Palestinian lives, homes, farms, villages, towns and holy places. The ethnic cleansing started pre-1948, and the Zionists literally continue to get away with murder, so why should anything else not be done at the expense of the Palestinians?
All of this goes on with the full knowledge and complicity of the international community, which provides diplomatic, political and financial cover to Israel, as well as arms to use against the Palestinians. Israel and its allies in the West then have the gall to describe Palestinians who exercise their legitimate right to resist the brutal military occupation as “terrorists”. Such injustice persists, but its days are numbered as the world wakes up to the reality of the far-from-democratic settler-colonial state.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.