Israel’s far-right government could be good for the Palestinians

A supporter of Israel’s Likud party holds a Shofar (musical horn made of a ram’s horn) at the party’s campaign headquarters in Jerusalem on November 1, 2022, after the end of voting in the fifth natio
(File photo: Jordan News)
A supporter of Israel’s Likud party holds a Shofar (musical horn made of a ram’s horn) at the party’s campaign headquarters in Jerusalem on November 1, 2022, after the end of voting in the fifth natio

Osama Al Sharif

The writer is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.

Two days after Israel swore in its most extreme, ultra-nationalist, and ultra-religious government, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians celebrated the 58th anniversary of the birth of the oldest and most popular Palestinian national liberation movement, Fatah. The Fatah anniversary was even celebrated by Palestinians in Hamas-controlled Gaza, in addition to the West Bank and Lebanon’s refugee camps. اضافة اعلان

The celebrations underlined the fact that after almost six decades, the grassroots movement remains popular and revered by Palestinians both in the occupied territories and in the diaspora.

But Palestinian resistance against colonization is much older. It traces its roots to the early 1930s when historical Palestine was under the British mandate and as tens of thousands of European Jews began to arrive as colonizers.

In May, Israel will celebrate its 75th anniversary as a state with much-expected pomp and ceremony. But away from marking anniversaries and the symbolism attached, the century-old struggle for nationhood, liberation, independence, and self-determination in Palestine is as fresh today as it was in the wake of the First World War.

However, Israel today still faces the same fundamental challenge it had faced throughout its turbulent history; the towering figure of a defiant Palestinian identity.
Israel today still faces the same fundamental challenge it had faced throughout its turbulent history; the towering figure of a defiant Palestinian identity.
A century has passed marked by British imperial collusion with the international Zionist movement, US and western complicity, land grabbing, attempts to erase Palestinian history and identity, ethnic cleansing, destruction of entire villages, killing of civilians, blatant war crimes, forced transfer, massacres and the imprisonment of thousands — all of which have failed to deliver what Israel’s founding fathers had hoped; future generations of Palestinians who will eventually forget the cause.

Decades later, Israel and the Palestinians are bound together by one unbreakable bond; occupation, where one is the occupier and the other is the occupied. No matter what Israel has tried to do to free itself from this shackle — ironically to liberate itself too — it found itself sinking deeper in the quagmire that is their occupation.

So now it is making a last-ditch attempt through an ultra-nationalist, ultra-religious, openly racist government to set itself free.

A triumphant Netanyahu has vowed that, in addition to derailing Iran’s nuclear program, settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights will be his government’s top objectives. And while geopolitical constraints will not help him do much about the former, his motley coalition partners cannot wait to intensify and expand illegal settlements in a way that was never seen before.

In the defiant words of Netanyahu, the Jewish people cannot be considered occupiers of their own homeland. This came in response to the UN General Assembly’s vote last week to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to provide an opinion on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. In doing so, Netanyahu is hoping to cancel the Palestinian identity altogether and break the historical bond Palestinians have to their ancestral land.

Western hypocrisy in voting against the motion notwithstanding, the vote itself and the ICJ’s reply will only embolden the Palestinian claim to self-determination and statehood.
At 75, one wonders if Israel will be seen as a young, forward-looking state or as a geriatric, introverted, and paranoid one.
Leaving the political schisms dividing the Palestinian national movement aside, the rise of the far right in Israel and its expansionist agenda may serve the Palestinian cause in the long term. Yes, the coming days and weeks will see unprecedented escalation against the Palestinians; more extrajudicial killings, demolitions of homes, expansion of illegal settlements, desecrating religious sites, ethnic cleansing, and official annexations — at least of Area C.

But, the divisions within Israeli society and the political body politic will deepen and will likely implode over the attempt by the far right to change the genetic makeup of Israeli society.

At 75, one wonders if Israel will be seen as a young, forward-looking state or as a geriatric, introverted, and paranoid one.

Today’s revisionist tides within Israeli society want to amend laws regarding the law of return to limit non-Jewish immigration. Meanwhile, the ultra-Orthodox Haredim sect, which is set to make up to 16 percent of Israel's population by 2030, and is in the Netanyahu coalition government, wants to change laws regarding lifestyle, the standard of living, education, women, homosexuality, and others.

The ultra-nationalists, on the other hand, want to put constraints on non-Jewish citizens of Israel, where Arabs make up more than 20 percent, at a time when Jews represent only 47 percent of the population between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. Demography stands as Israel’s most critical threat towards achieving the goal of an exclusively Jewish state.

In the end, two national identities, with all their nuances and complexities, are on a collision course. This is one war Israel cannot win with guns and cannons. A widespread conflagration in the occupied territories appears inevitable.

And in one unintended way, the most far-right Israeli government in Israel’s history is about to change the trajectory of the Palestinian cause in a way that could not have been imagined in the past few decades. 


Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.


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