By Jorge Sánchez – Jan 19, 2023
The new scenario of Israeli politics
The configuration of a new Israeli government on December 23, at the last moment, brings Netanyahu back to the political front line. This time, hand in hand with a coalition made up of six parties, they are going to make up the most far-right, fundamentalist, and radical cabinet since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. If Netanyahu was considered a hawk in the classic differentiation between doves and hawks of Israeli politics, his allies, Jewish Power, Religious Zionism and Noam make the president appear as a rather centrist liberal politician. In addition, the 64 seats that complete the new executive include two ultra-Orthodox parties, United Judaism of the Torah and Shas, and constitute a sufficient majority to govern the 120-seat chamber of the Israeli parliament. This completes a transition that, since the last Labor government of Ehud Barak in 1999, has been leaning more and more towards positions of the extreme right and ultra-orthodox.
The debacle of the weakening of the Zionist left is exemplified by the Labor Party, which received less than 4% of the vote in the last elections. It must be recalled that the founding of the state of Israel and the Zionist project is historically based on Labor. The Labor Party of Golda Meier, Yitzhak Rabin, or Shimon Peres constituted, together with the Histadrut union and the movement of the Kibbutzim, the fundamental pillars of the Zionist project, which for decades have constituted the so-called “camp of peace”.
In this way, and for many years, Israel has presented itself to the world with an image of a young, modern, progressive, and secular state—the only democracy in the region—a false image produced by the Zionist propaganda apparatus and the omnipresent lobby among the Western media. As a self-fulfilling prophecy, today, the leaders who are in charge of the state of Israel openly declare their intentions to annex the entirety of the Occupied Territories in 1967, that is, the entire West Bank, plus the eastern side of the city of Jerusalem. and expand their colonies in the Golan Heights and the Negev.
Anyone can take a look at Netanyahu’s Twitter profile, which last week outlined some of the plans of the new executive branch he leads: “These are the basic lines of the national government that I head: The Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right over all areas of the Land of Israel. The government will promote and develop settlements in all parts of the Land of Israel: in the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan, Judea and Samaria.”
It is no longer necessary to argue about international law, about breaches of United Nations (UN) resolutions, or to resort to reports from Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch to denounce the impunity of the state of Israel. Statements like these run through the Israeli press naturally these days, without gesticulations, openly affirming their racism and appearing proud to implement the colonial project in all of historic Palestine. The Western media now candidly describes the actions of a criminal and inadmissible apartheid regime to rule over the entire Palestinian population, almost without ruffling any feathers.
With the disappearance of the so-called “field of peace,” the year 2023 marks the beginning of a new period in Israeli politics. Those voices, spearheaded by the Labor Party, who advocated, at least rhetorically, the two-state solution, have been struck down from the political scene. If the project of the two states as a solution for a lasting peace had any chance in the past, today it is unfeasible due to the proliferation of colonies and settlements in an increasingly divided West Bank. It was functional for the fait accompli policy of the state of Israel, on the one hand, and to maintain a Palestinian National Authority (PNA), totally inoperative, at the cost of maintaining its status and privileges. The PNA, whose creation was the result of the Oslo agreements, today is totally discredited in the eyes of the population due to its collaboration with the police forces and the Israeli army in the repression of the resistance of the Palestinian people. From being a transitory entity, it has become part of the problem. In addition, a good part of the international left, endorser of this two-state solution that is impossible today, should review some of its analysis so as not to be left in the dark.
Year 2022, the disastrous result of the Israeli repression
The year 2022 was the deadliest since 2005, the culmination of the Second Intifada. In the West Bank alone, there have been more than 150 murders, 45 of them children, according to United Nations sources. If we add to these figures the constant expansion of illegal settlements, with 4,800 new homes for new settlers and the eviction of entire neighborhoods of Palestinians, the situation has resulted in growing tension, translated into daily clashes with the Israeli army and the hordes of armed settlers that camp throughout the territory under its protection.
In Gaza, the situation is no better. The blockade imposed by the state of Israel on the entire strip in 2007 continues to punish around two million people who live confined to a space of 360 square kilometers. The land, air, and sea blockade has lasted for more than 15 years. In August, as has been the case cyclically every year, the Israeli army launched a campaign of air strikes. Thus, between August 5 and 8, the strip was besieged by Israeli aircraft, producing 49 Palestinian deaths, according to a United Nations report.
One of the moments that will remain in the memory, among the tragedy of these Palestinian deaths, will be the assassination of the Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The journalist, who was covering an Israeli army operation on May 11 in the city of Jenin, was shot in the head, despite wearing a helmet and being visibly accredited with a press vest. Although it has not been possible to prove intentionality, various sources speak of the deliberate murder of one of the most outspoken voices to cover the conflict. Shiren Abu Aklen, 51, was heroine for journalism in the Arab world after 25 years of experience in the region. The image that went around the world came from during her funeral in occupied East Jerusalem. The transfer of the coffin from the hospital to the church encapsulated all the cruelty, violence and hostility of the Israeli occupation regime. A crowd that accompanied the entourage, carrying Palestinian flags and chanting slogans in memory of Abu Akleh, was attacked by the Israeli police forces, sparking violent clashes throughout the procession.
Resilience and resistance. A new generation takes to the streets.
The year 2022 has also been a year for hope. For the first time in many years, a series of protests for the eviction of neighboring families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem gradually spread, culminating in a general strike on May 18, a strike in which the Palestinian population of all of historic Palestine (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the state of Israel) participated, in an unexpected unity of action.
Unexpectedly, a new generation of the Palestinian resistance has erupted for a few months in different cities and villages of the West Bank. Under the name “The Lion’s Den,” very young militia members face every incursion of the Israeli occupation army on a daily basis. Especially strong in Balata (a refugee camp belonging to the city of Nablus) and Jenin, “The Lion’s Den” brings together militia members without affiliation to any known faction, and has overwhelmed the little control which the discredited PNA still had on the ground. With a growing popularity among the Palestinian population, the young militias have again surpassed the framework of the classic Palestinian organizations. Today, they exercise de facto power in a large part of the West Bank, responding one by one to each incursion by the Zionist army. Without a clear command or hierarchy, they have been gaining notoriety, little by little, since their appearance in the months of July and August. Their youth and combativeness have made them a symbol of a new generation that is not willing to compromise with an occupation that daily claims lives among the Palestinian population.
At the beginning of last September, about 30 of its members toured the old city of Nablus, surrounded by 100 people, in a kind of presentation or showdown for the Palestinian population. Well-armed, they have quickly become popular thanks to their activity on the TikTok and Telegram social media networks, where they define themselves as “a phenomenon of continuous resistance derived from unity on the ground and from the roots of the past revolution.”
A change for international solidarity.
During the second intifada, in July 2005, a coalition of more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations launched the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment, or BDS, campaign, a Palestinian-led movement inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, based on civil disobedience, that seeks to isolate the state of Israel as long as it does not comply with international law. BDS, which for years was given a strong boost from international solidarity, seems to be suffering from stagnation. The general ebb of social movements, the long pandemic, and the lack of progress in the region may be some of its causes, but it also must be said that there is an erosion among the BDS groups, a dispersion of some groups, and internal struggles between different political positions. Perhaps too many forces have been allocated to institutional lobby work to the detriment of more work from below, on the street, of mobilization. BDS campaigns tend to be long and bear fruit in the medium and long term, and that can provide the feeling of a standstill in terms of public appearance. At times, it is perhaps more rewarding to make a splash, as demonstrated in Qatar, where the Palestinian flag was very present during the celebration of the victories of the Moroccan team.
The movement has dwindled since the early 2000s, when there was a strong push. The campaign spread and it had a good reach throughout Spain. That is why it is necessary to regroup all active militants and open a debate, a new process of analysis and updating of the frameworks of struggle. Without forgetting BDS as one of the fundamental tools, this fight must be complemented with more grassroots work, raising awareness of the Palestinian cause. Perhaps it would be a good time to set aside the differences that have dismembered part of the movement and issue a general call to collectively relaunch some initiative. A broad call, with organized people and with those who were organized at some point, to recover the initiative. Perhaps thinking about reorganizing brigades to Palestine could ensure new relief in solidarity militancy.
We must re-analyze the new keys to the conflict and adapt our solidarity to the new frameworks that have been created, both in Israeli politics and in the Palestinian field, thus updating a discourse that must include BDS as an action tool for new campaigns, combined with support for the resistance that leaves the Palestinians dead every day. In addition, we must accept the impossibility of maintaining the discourse of two states as the only solution, in order to collectively build new horizons in the struggle for the emancipation of the Palestinian people.
The month of September 2023 will mark the 30th anniversary of the Oslo agreements. Some of us, the most veteran, remember the images of Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shaking hands before the smiling gaze of Bill Clinton, an image that went around the world and heralded the possibility of reaching a “fair, lasting and comprehensive” peace, according to part of the text of the agreement. However, during all these years the agreements have been a failure, a blind alley where the word “peace” has been anything but tangible for the Palestinian people. Peace, as an objective, must be accompanied by justice. A just solution would be to end the apartheid regime, end the occupation and colonial oppression, and recognize the right of the Palestinian population to self-determination. Those could be the starting points for a new debate.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
kwjorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/kwjogobonito/January 31, 2023
kwjorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/kwjogobonito/January 10, 2023