[News] Jewish Settlers Rule the Roost in Israel, But at What Price?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Aug 23 10:45:53 EDT 2019


https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/08/23/jewish-settlers-rule-the-roost-in-israel-but-at-what-price/ 



  Jewish Settlers Rule the Roost in Israel, But at What Price?

by Ramzy Baroud <https://www.counterpunch.org/author/ramzy-baroud/> - 
August 23, 2019
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Israeli Jewish settlers are on a rampage in the occupied Palestinian 
West Bank. While settler violence is part of everyday routine in 
Palestine, the violence of recent weeks is directly linked to the 
general elections in Israel, scheduled to be held on September 17.

The previous elections, on April 9, failed to bring about political 
stability. Although Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu is now the 
longest-serving prime minister in the 71-year history of the country, he 
was still unable to form a government coalition.

Tarnished by a series of corruption cases involving himself, his family 
and aides, Netanyahu’s leadership is in an unenviable position. Police 
investigators are closing in on him, while opportunistic political 
allies, the likes of Avigdor Lieberman, are twisting his arm with the 
hope of exacting future political concessions.

The political crisis in Israel is not the outcome of a resurrected Labor 
or invigorated central parties, but the failure of the Right (including 
far-right and ultra-nationalist parties) to articulate a unified 
political agenda.

Illegal Jewish settlers understand well that the future identity of any 
right-wing government coalition will have lasting impact on their 
colonial enterprise. The settlers, however, are not exactly worried, 
since all major political parties, including that of the Blue and White, 
the centrist party of Benjamin Gantz, have made the support for Jewish 
colonies an important aspect in their campaigns.

The decisive vote of the Jewish settlers of the West Bank and their 
backers inside Israel became very clear in the last elections. 
Subsequently, their power forced Gantz to adopt an entirely different 
political stance since April.

The man who, on April 7 (two days before the last elections), criticized 
Netanyahu’s “irresponsible” announcement regarding his intention to 
annex the West Bank, is now a great supporter of the settlements. 
According to the Israeli news website, Arutz Sheva, Gantz vowed to 
continue expanding the settlements “from a strategic point of view and 
not as a political strategy”.

Considering the shift in Gantz’ perspective regarding the settlements, 
Netanyahu is left with no other option but to up the ante, as he is now 
pushing for complete and irreversible annexation of the West Bank.

Annexing the West Bank, from Netanyahu’s viewpoint, is a sound political 
strategy. The Israeli prime minister is, of course, oblivious to 
international law which sees Israel’s military and settler presence as 
illegal. But neither Netanyahu, nor any other Israeli leader, for that 
matter, have ever cared about international law whatsoever. All that 
truly counts for Israel is Washington’s support, which is often blind 
and unconditional.

According to the Times of Israel newspaper, Netanyahu is now officially 
lobbying for a public statement by US President Donald Trump to back 
Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

Although the White House refused to comment on the story, and an 
official in Netanyahu’s office claimed that it was “incorrect”, the 
Israeli right is on the fast track of making that annexation possible.

Encouraged by US Ambassador David Friedman’s comment that “Israel has 
the right to retain some of the West Bank”, more Israeli officials are 
speaking boldly and openly regarding their intentions of making that 
annexation possible.

Netanyahu had, himself, hinted at that possibility in August during a 
visit to the illegal settlement of Beit El. “We come to build. Our hands 
will reach out and we will deepen our roots in our homeland – in all 
parts of it,” Netanyahu said, during a ceremony celebrating the 
expansion of the illegal settlements to include 650 more housing units.

Unlike Netanyahu, former Israeli justice minister and leader of the 
newly-formed United Right, Ayelet Shaked, didn’t speak in code. In an 
interview with The Jerusalem Post, she called for the full annexation of 
Area C, which constitutes nearly 60 percent of the West Bank. “We have 
to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria,” she said, referring to the 
Palestinian land using biblical designations.

Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan, 
however, wants to go the extra mile. According to Arutz Sheva and The 
Jerusalem Post, Erdan has called for the annexation of all illegal 
settlements in the West Bank and the ouster of Palestinian Authority 
(PA) President Mahmoud Abbas as well.

Now situated at the center of Israeli politics, Jewish settlers are 
enjoying the spectacle as they are being courted by all major political 
parties. Their increased violence in the West Bank is a form of 
political muscle-flexing, an expression of dominance and a brutish 
display of political priorities.

“There’s only one flag from the Jordan to the sea – the flag of Israel,” 
was the slogan of a rally involving over 1,200 Jewish settlers who 
roamed the streets of the Palestinian city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) on 
August 14. The settlers, together with Israeli soldiers, stormed 
al-Shuhada street and harassed Palestinians and international activists 
in the beleaguered Palestinian city.

Just a few days earlier, an estimated 1,700 Jewish settlers, backed by 
Israeli police, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East 
Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, over 60 
Palestinians were wounded when Israeli forces and settlers attacked 
worshippers.

The violent scene was repeated in Nablus, where armed women settlers 
stormed the town of al-Masoudiya and conducted “military training” under 
the protection of the Israeli occupation army.

The settlers’ message is clear: we now rule the roost, not only in the 
West Bank, but in Israeli politics as well.

All of this is happening as if it is entirely an Israeli political 
affair. The PA, which has now been dropped out of American political 
calculations altogether, is left to issue occasional, irrelevant press 
releases about its intention to hold Israel accountable according to 
international law.

But the guardians of international law are also suspiciously absent. 
Neither the United Nations, nor advocates of democracy and international 
law in the European Union, seem interested in confronting Israeli 
intransigence and blatant violations of human rights.

With Jewish settlers dictating the political agenda in Israel, and 
constantly provoking Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, violence 
is likely to grow exponentially in the coming months. As is often the 
case, this violence will be used strategically by the Israeli 
government, this time to set the stage for a final and complete 
annexation of Palestinian land, a disastrous outcome by any count.

/*Ramzy Baroud* is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine 
Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto 
Press, London, 2018). He earned a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the 
University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for 
Global and International Studies, UCSB./

-- 
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863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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