FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Will Israeli Policies Change If Netanyahu Leaves Office?

Photo by Kristoffer Trolle | CC BY 2.0

If scandal-plagued Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, exits his country’s political scene today, who is likely to replace him? And what does this mean as far as Israel’s Occupation of Palestine is concerned?

Netanyahu, who is currently being charged with multiple cases of corruption, misuse of government funds and public office, has, for years, epitomized the image of Israel internationally.

In Israel, Netanyahu has masterfully kept his rightwing Likud Party at the center of power. Even if as part of larger coalitions – as is often the case in the formation of most of Israeli governments – the Likud, under Netanyahu, has shaped Israeli politics and foreign policy for many years.

As Israel’s Jewish population continues to move to the right, the country’s political ideology has been repeatedly redefined in the last two decades.

Now, a negligible eight percent of Israeli Jews see themselves as leftwing, while a whopping 37 percent consider themselves rightwing. Although 55 percent see themselves as center, the term itself does not represent what political centers traditionally do in other countries.

For example, it is quite acceptable to be a member of Israel’s center and support the idea of forced expulsion of Palestinian Arab natives living in Israel.  48 percent of all Israeli Jews, in fact, do.

But what does all of this mean for the Palestinian people, for the Israeli Occupation and for a just solution to the ongoing suffering in Palestine?

Here are some characters that are seen as possible heirs to Netanyahu’s political throne.

This should certainly not indicate that Netanyahu’s political future is over. But due to the number and seriousness of the scandals surrounding him, Netanyahu’s skills may no longer serve him.

Mindful of that possibility, some Israeli politicians, even in Netanyahu’s own party, are ready to take the helm when the opportunity arise:

Minister of Education and leader of Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home), Naftali Bennett is a rightwing, ultra-nationalist. He is vehemently opposed to any talks with the Palestinians and has long advocated the full annexation of all illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

In an interview with Israel’s Army Radio on March 8, Bennett made it clear that he would run for the post of Prime Minister when Netanyahu “exits the political stage.”

In recent remarks made at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, Bennett, a champion of the settlers’ movement, insisted that neither settlement blocs nor large sections of the Occupied West Bank will ever be relinquished.

He was quoted in the Washington Post as saying that any criticism from the West regarding the annexation of occupied land is likely to be fleeting. “After two months (of annexation) it fades away, and 20 years later and 40 years later it’s still ours. Forever.”

Head of the centrist party, Kulanu (All of Us) and the country’s Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, is a vital member of Netanyahu’s rightwing-extremist coalition.

He was a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, and he merely differs with Netanyahu on some domestic issues.

Although, Kahlon advocates the resumption of the so-called peace process, he, like Netanyahu, places the blame mostly on the Palestinian leadership, not on Israeli policies, predicated on the continued expansion of the illegal settlements.

If he is to become Prime Minister, he is likely to reproduce Netanyahu’s political strategy, to keep his party as close to the right as possible, and to engender future coalitions with the country’s ultra-nationalists and extremists.

Gideon Sa’ar is also an ex-Likud member. Despite his popularity in the party (as shown in the results of the 2008 and 2012 elections), he stepped down from politics in 2015 due to strong disagreements with Netanyahu. He had made it clear that his ultimate “goal is to lead the country in the future.”

As he is now back in politics following Netanyahu’s corruption scandals, Sa’ar is articulating his political programs in various media platforms. He dismissed the ‘two-state solution’ as a ‘two-state slogan,’ not because he is a believer in co-existence in one democratic state, but because the status quo suits Israel well.

Delighted by a decision made last December by US President, Donald Trump, to accept Israel’s own definition of Jerusalem as the ‘eternal capital of the Jewish people’, he said, “understanding, as the US President has said lately, that this conflict is not the heart of the regional conflict, is crucial.”

“It’s a very, very small and marginal conflict in comparison to the multi-front regional war between Shiites and Sunnis.”

One of the most outspoken rightwing, ultra-nationalists, known for her racially-loaded and often outrageous views is Ayelet Shaked.

She is a very influential member of Bennett’s Jewish Home Party, serving as the Minister of Justice in Netanyahu’s current coalition.

What is most problematic about her views is not simply her lack of interest in a Palestinian state, as she has repeatedly made clear, but rather her views on non-Jewish minorities in the country and on democracy as a whole.

“There are places where the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state must be maintained, and this sometimes comes at the expense of equality,” she said as reported by the Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz.

“Israel is a Jewish state. It isn’t a state of all its nations. There is place to maintain a Jewish majority even at the price of violation of rights.”

And, finally, there is Avi Gabbay, who split from the Kulanu Party four years ago to run for, and eventually lead, the Labor Party, the leading ‘left’ party in Israel.

Gabbay’s political views are, in fact, as hawkish as that of Netanyahu and other rightwing politicians regarding the Jewish settlements, as he understands that the most powerful political constituency in Israel is now that of the right.

He said in an interview, soon after taking over the Labor, that peace with the Palestinians does not necessarily require dismantling the illegal Jewish settlements.

Israeli politics can be complicated, as often displayed in their intricate government coalitions. However, when it comes to Israel’s military Occupation of Palestine, leading Israeli politicians are, more or less, the same.

Regardless of Netanyahu’s political future, Israeli policies towards Palestinians will remain unchanged, leaving Palestinians with the urgent responsibility of developing their own unified political strategy to counter the Israeli Occupation, human rights violations and illegal Jewish settlements.

More articles by:

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). He earned a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
January 17, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: No Woman, No Cry
Kathleen Wallace
Hijacking the Struggles of Others, Elizabeth Warren Style
Robert Hunziker
The Rumbling Methane Enigma
Frank Joyce
Will the Constitution Fail Again?
Pete Dolack
Claims that the ‘NAFTA 2’ Agreement is Better are a Macabre Joke
Andrew Levine
Biden Daze
Vijay Prashad
Not an Inch: Indian Students Stand Against the Far Right
Ramzy Baroud
Sealed Off and Forgotten: What You Should Know about Israel’s ‘Firing Zones’ in the West Bank
Norman Solomon
Not Bernie, Us. Not Warren, Us. Their Clash Underscores the Need for Grassroots Wisdom
Ted Rall
America’s Long History of Meddling in Russia
David Rosen
The Irregulators vs. FCC: the Trial Begins
Jennifer Matsui
The Krown
Joseph Natoli
Resolutions and Obstacles/2020
Sarah Anderson
War Profiteering is Real
James McFadden
The Business Party Syndicate
Ajamu Baraka
Trump Prosecutors Make Move to Ensure that Embassy Protectors are Convicted
David Swanson
CNN is Trash
Rev. William Alberts
Finally a Christian Call for Trump’s Removal
Dave Lindorff
The ERA Just Got Ratified by Virginia, the Needed 38th State!
W. T. Whitney
Mexico Takes Action on Coup in Bolivia and on CELAC
Steve Early
How General Strike Rhetoric Became a Reality in Seattle 
Jessicah Pierre
Learning From King’s Last Campaign
Mark Dickman
Saint Greta and the Dragon
Jared Bernstein - Dean Baker
Reducing the Health Care Tax
Clark T. Scott
Uniting “Progressives” Instead of Democrats
Nilofar Suhrawardy
Trump & Johnson: What a Contrast, Image-wise!
Ron Jacobs
Abusing America’s Children—Free Market Policy
George Wuerthner
Mills Are Being Closed by National Economic Trends, Not Environmental Regulations
Basav Sen
Nearly All Americans Want Off of Fossil Fuels
Mark Ashwill
Playing Geopolitical Whack-a-Mole: The Viet Nam Flag Issue Revisited
Jesse Jackson
New Hope for One of America’s Poorest Communities
Binoy Kampmark
Harry and Meghan Exit: The Royal Family Propaganda Machine
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again!
Rob Okun
A Call to Men to join Women’s March
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
We All Need to Be Tree Huggers Now
Tom Stephens
The New York Times’ Delusions of Empire
Julian Rose
Fake-Green Zero Carbon Fraud
Louis Proyect
The Best Films of 2019
Matthew Stevenson
Across the Balkans: Into Kosovo
Colin Todhunter
Gone Fishing? No Fish but Plenty of Pesticides and a Public Health Crisis
Julian Vigo
Can New Tech Replace In-Class Learning?
Gaither Stewart
The Bench: the Life of Things
Nicky Reid
Trannies with Guns: Because Enough is Enough!
James Haught
Baby Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark
David Yearsley
Brecht in Berlin
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail