21 December 2022   2 comments

After months of negotiations, it appears as if a ruling coalition has been achieved in Israel. It has been a very difficult period of time in Israeli politics: there have been five elections in the last four years, and none of them has achieved political stability. The newest coalition consists of six parties and they have agreed that Benjamin Netanyahu should serve as Prime Minister, just 18 months after he left the position under a cloud of suspicion. He is currently on trial on “charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust”.

The BBC characterizes the new coalition as “the most right-wing in Israel’s history”:

“Mr Netanyahu’s coalition partners reject the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict – the internationally backed formula for peace which envisages an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank alongside Israel, with Jerusalem as their shared capital.

“The leader of the Religious Zionism party, which in alliance with two other far-right parties won the third largest number of seats in the knesset (parliament), wants to see Israel annex the West Bank and has been given wide powers over its activities there….

“Israeli opposition politicians, as well as its attorney general, have warned that reforms planned by the incoming government – including giving MPs the right to overrule Supreme Court decisions – threaten to undermine Israeli democracy.

“Coalition partners have also proposed legal reforms which could end Mr Netanyahu’s ongoing trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Mr Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

“Israeli opposition and civil rights groups have expressed particular alarm at the inclusion of the far-right in the new government.

“Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir is known for his anti-Arab comments and has called for the relaxation of rules on when security forces can open fire in the face of threats. Once convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terror organisation, he is set to become national security minister with authority over the police in Israel and the West Bank.

“The other far-right partner in government, Avi Maoz of the anti-LGBT Noam party, has called for Jerusalem’s Gay Pride event to be banned, disapproves of equal opportunities for women in the military, and wants to limit immigration to Israel to Jews according to strict interpretation of Jewish law.”

The news has received mixed responses, but some US Jews have expressed concern over the rightward swing that violates many precepts of liberal democracy. The New York Times outlines the concerns over one member of the new coalition, Itamar Ben-Givr:

“Future ministers in Mr. Netanyahu’s cabinet also include several far-right Jewish settlers who have a history of homophobia, antagonism toward Israel’s Arab minority and opposition to secular aspects of public life.

“One, Itamar Ben-Gvir, was barred from serving in the Israeli Army because he was considered too extremist. He admires a hard-line rabbi who wanted to strip Arab Israelis of their citizenship, and for years, he displayed a portrait in his home of an extremist Jewish settler who shot dead 29 Palestinians in 1994 in a mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron.

“Despite criminal convictions for incitement to racism and support for a terrorist group, Mr. Ben-Gvir is set to be minister for national security, overseeing the police.”

The new coalition signals little intention to revive the moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The Biden Administration has been reticent to express strong concerns about the coalition, and it appears as if the US will wait to see how the coalition actually governs. But we should all be concerned about the future of Israeli liberal democracy.

Posted December 21, 2022 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

2 responses to “21 December 2022

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  1. We should all be concerned…we should be outraged!!!US complicity in this apartheid charade is unacceptable.

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    david g whittlesey
  2. Outrage is genuinely warranted over a grim situation that has endured for over a half-century. And, while I understand how you are using the word apartheid, there are some important and real differences between the Israeli and South African experiences. In my experience, the use of that word diverts the discussion away from a clear focus on the Palestinian experience.

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