Tel Aviv, Tuesday, 03 January 2023
With a mission to convert Israel into an openly racist authoritarian state that prioritises Orthodox Judaism over human rights, views its Arab residents as enemies, and eliminates the checks and balances imposed by an effective, independent judiciary, Benjamin Netanyahu has returned to power. The prime minister came to power by cobbling together a parliamentary coalition that sees liberal and democratic ideologies as alien intrusions that threaten the state's Jewish identity.
The accords that link the coalition's parties together are a revolutionary manifesto. For "reasons of religious belief," the members have promised to tolerate discrimination against women, non-Jews, and LGBTQ individuals. They have referred to the substantial Arab population as a "demographic issue" in Israel's northern and southern provinces. Although Israeli political agreements are rarely followed exactly, they function as declarations of intent and provide a roadmap for decision-makers. It is abundantly obvious from the present package of agreements that Israel's next ruling coalition will be the most right-wing in its history.
Three politicians, each of whom makes Netanyahu look like a softie, fuel the ideological fervour of the new government. The first is Itamar Ben-Gvir, a follower of the man who established Kach, a racist, violent political movement that was outlawed in 1994 after one of its supporters slaughtered 29 Muslims with a gun. Ben-Gvir has a lengthy history of being detained and found guilty for crimes like supporting terrorism and inciting bigotry. The second is Bezalel Smotrich, the head of radical Jewish settlers in the West Bank, who was apprehended in 2005 with about 200 gallons of fuel and released without being charged. Authorities believed he planned to use the fuel to destroy national infrastructure and stop Israel from removing settlements from Gaza.
The third individual is Avi Maoz, who is the leader of a small but fervent religious and ultranationalist group that seeks to rid Israel's educational system, public service, and media of liberals, feminists, and LGBTQ individuals. Before agreeing to make Netanyahu prime minister, these three extremists wanted and obtained greater constitutional powers, knowing that he had a history of making false promises and plain lying. Ben-Gvir will oversee Israel's police force and border guards with previously unheard-of ministerial authority. Smotrich will have more freedom to advocate for Israel's annexation of West Bank land and increase settlements. The extracurricular education will be under Maoz's purview, and she will receive a specific budget to "strengthen Israel's Jewish identity."
A once-in-a-lifetime chance to overthrow the current state structure, which Netanyahu sees as hostile and disrespectful to his leadership, has been presented to him by his embrace of all three individuals. By nominating Yariv Levin to be the minister of justice, a strongly devoted politician who he expects would end his corruption trials, he has already made the first steps in that direction. In order to appeal to worldwide audiences, Netanyahu may eventually be compelled to tone down some of his dictatorial and ideologically extremist behaviour.
In order to adjust his preferred image to the political and global environment, Netanyahu has always displayed two faces: the ideological extremist and the pragmatic realist. He views the Palestinian national cause (and its Western backers) to be an anti-Semitic fraud from an ideological standpoint, and he has a very low opinion of state institutions including the military, bureaucracy, and court. These organisations are viewed by the prime minister and his conservative and religious supporters as a "deep state" that protects the old Israel, which was leftist and insufficiently Zionist.
They are viewed by him as a system working to appease liberals in the United States and Europe. Netanyahu has advocated "replacing the old elites" with socially conservative and ardently nationalist newcomers since his 1996 inauguration as prime minister.
The other Netanyahu, on the other hand, has a biography that resembles the old elite checklist. He was born in Rehavia, a section of Jerusalem that served as Israel's early intellectual centre. He went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served in the Israel Defence Forces as a Special Forces officer. He also personally believes in the wisdom of rich plutocrats and the power of the lone genius (Netanyahu has never rejected being portrayed as an atheist in the media).
When election results compelled Netanyahu to compromise with the political centre or when he was subjected to intolerable American pressure to restart the peace process with the Palestinians and make diplomatic compromises, this version of Netanyahu would emerge.
The Oslo accords, which called for Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization to recognise one another and work toward a two-state solution, were put into effect in 1993, but Netanyahu's first term as prime minister ended in 1999 when he encountered resistance from both the Clinton administration and the Israeli political establishment. In response, Netanyahu started to emphasise his more realistic qualifications. This paid off in 2009 when he once more won the position of prime minister by establishing a coalition with Ehud Barak, the head of the Labour Party who had defeated him ten years prior.
He partnered with two centrist parties in 2013 to extend his time as prime minister. Foreign policy dominated Netanyahu's political endeavours at those times. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process was successfully put on hold by him, but he was unsuccessful in convincing Washington and Israel's defence and intelligence chiefs to authorise an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Additionally, he failed to stop Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran.
Ideologues then earned a clear legislative majority in 2015, some 20 years after Netanyahu initially attempted to push Israel to the right. He was once more successful in assuming office with a coalition that was entirely right-wing and ultra-Orthodox, reviving his previous, unfulfilled aim of "changing the elites." With the support of American President Donald Trump, he put aside the Palestinian conflict and concentrated on advancing Jewish dominance.
The result of their efforts was the ratification in 2018 of a new Basic Law designating the nation as the "nation-state of the Jewish people." The law promised to encourage Jewish settlements around the nation in order to prevent the growth of Arab communities and to permit tiny towns that are exclusively Jewish. It stated that only the Jewish people were entitled to national collective rights, and it lacked provisions ensuring non-Jewish Israelis' equality. The introduction of this Basic Law was intended to remove the predominance of human rights and civil equality in rulings by the Israeli Supreme Court because there isn't a legal constitution for the nation.
Nevertheless, Netanyahu's coalition disintegrated soon after the nation-state bill was made law, and Israel descended into a four-year political crisis.
(Research and edit by: The Decision Maker – International Relations editors)
(Picture by: Wikipedia)