Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012
Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

Tel Aviv veers rightward

Coming elections in Israel are almost certain to produce a more extremist government even than Netanyahu’s governing coalition, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem

Al-Ahram Weekly

The extremist rightwing in Israel is consolidating its rule over the self-described “national camp” as never before as Israel braces to elect the most radical parliament in its history.

Last week, the Likud took a sharp turn to the right when party members elected a list of candidates who will contest the upcoming elections slated for 22 January.

Barring any surprises, it is highly likely that Israel will further move towards the extreme right, with its religious and nationalistic wings, as more extreme right-wing politicians and advocates of “Greater Israel” are expected to make it to the next Israeli Knesset or parliament.

The sharp turn to the far right could have serious ramifications for Israel’s relations with the international community, including Egypt, whose delicate relations with the Zionist state would be put to the test in case the next Israeli government goes too far in finishing off the two-state solution.

Even Israel’s relations with its guardian-ally, the United States, could suffer, especially if an increasingly Talmudic-minded Israel decided to challenge and defy the basic guidelines of US policy in the region.

Last week, the ruling Likud Party elected its list of candidates for the upcoming elections. The list, described as the most radical ever since the creation of Israel about 65 years ago, includes some of the most extremist and fanatical elements.

Among the new faces on the list is Moshe Feiglin, the leader of the quasi-fascist Jewish Leadership group within Likud who has finally succeeded on his fourth attempt in getting on the list.

Feiglin opposes the two-state solution, is against granting universal democratic rights — including the right to vote — to non-Jews, and advocates “progressive ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians as well as transforming Israel into a theocracy ruled according to Talmudic laws. Talmudic laws are highly discriminatory against non-Jews living under Jewish religious laws, or Halakha, who are viewed as “water carriers and wood hewers”.

Another young politician joining the Likud list with a guaranteed slot is Danny Danon who espouses equally extreme racist views vis-à-vis the Palestinians. He too advocates gradual ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the demolition of Al-Aqsa Mosque (awaiting the right timing) and vehement opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank.

Three veteran Likud leaders, including Benny Begin (son of the former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin), Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan, were pushed off the list as the membership opted for much more radical representatives.

Likud leaders reject the characterisation of the new list as extremist and fascist.

“Every time Likud selects its candidates, the media says they have lurched right,” said Knesset member Yariv Levin. “When Benny Begin was elected they said he was a right-wing extremist. Now he is out, they say he is a moderate.”

However, the facts seem to strongly refute any denial of extremism by Likud mouthpieces. Last month, the Likud agreed to form a single electoral bloc with a even more radical party, Israel Beitenu, headed by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman.

Leiberman has called Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas “terrorist” and only just stopped short of calling for his assassination.

 

PREVIEW OF NEXT GOVERNMENT: The next Israeli government’s likely behaviour revealed itself this week when the current government decided to build more than 3,000 additional settler units in East Jerusalem, the town Palestinians hope will be the capital of their future state.

The new project would cut off the northern West Bank from the southern part and annuls any remaining chances for the establishment of a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state.

The Israeli government has brushed off defiantly all international — including American — objections to the project, ostensibly aimed at punishing the Palestinians for seeking and winning recognition of Palestine as a non-member state at the UN.

Israeli leaders have voiced their hope that the powerful American Jewish lobby will eventually prevent the Obama administration from taking any proactive measures that would force Israel to reconsider it settlement expansion decision. According to Israeli commentators, the ruling rightwing establishment in Israel is willing to exercise “maximum brinkmanship” in order to thwart US opposition to settlement expansion in East Jerusalem.

The settlement project is becoming a rallying point for the rightwing camp in Israel as settler leaders and rabbis warn Netanyahu against budging to “goyem pressure”. Some media pundits in Israel have speculated that it would be politically disastrous for Netanyahu to backtrack on the matter and that he might change his mind only if he received a “strategic pledge” to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state without Israel’s consent.

 

BARAK QUITS: Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has decided to “retire from politics” as his popularity among Israelis dwindled to unprecedented levels.

“I want to study, to write, to live and have a good time. The decision to resign stems from my desire to devote more time to my family,” said the 70-year-old veteran military commander-turned-politician, who was prime minister from 1999 to 2001.

Barak is widely considered, especially by Palestinians and human rights organisations, as among Israel’s high profile war criminals for his role in murdering numerous Palestinian civilians. Barak has been a strong advocate of “liquidating” Palestinian leaders and activists, including the bombing of homes and the extermination of entire families.

The Palestinians hope that they will be able to convince the international community to prosecute Barak and other Israeli political and military leaders for war crimes, especially in Gaza Strip operations.

Barak leaves the political arena in Israel with the centre-left he claimed to represent in shambles.

Some observers argue that only a miracle would help the “left” remain a force in Israel as the Israeli society keeps moving to the right.

The Israeli left is only left in name as its leaders and ideologues adopt often racist views that would otherwise be understood as rightwing attitudes in any Western country. For example, Tzipi Livni, a self-described “leftist” and former leader of the Kadima Party, has described Palestinian success in obtaining UN recognition as “a terrorist act that endangers Israel security and survival”.

Livni advocates the eventual transfer of millions of Palestinians in Israel to a future Palestinian state on the West Bank in order to keep Israel purely Jewish.

 

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