Secret Meeting between “Israel’s” Bennett, Jordan’s King Abdullah

09/07/2021

Secret Meeting between “Israel’s” Bennett, Jordan’s King Abdullah

By Staff- Agencies

“Israeli” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly took a secret trip to Jordan last week and met with King Abdullah II at his palace in Amman in the first meeting between the two sides after years of strained ties.

According to a report by Walla News website, the meeting was very positive.

At the top of the meeting, Bennett informed King Abdullah that he was prepared to approve a deal for the sale of more water from the “Israeli”-occupied territories to Jordan, beyond the quota provided by the 1994 so-called bilateral peace agreement.

“Both Bennett and the Jordanian king agreed to turn the page and resume normal dialogue,” the official said.

The Zionist entity said this appeared to be a tit-for-tat move for Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah’s canceled trip to Al-Aqsa compound.

The meeting marked the first time Abdullah has met an “Israeli” prime minister since he hosted Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018. That meeting was also held in secret and only announced after it took place.

“Israeli” media outlets indicated on Thursday evening that Jordanian officials were unhappy with the fact that the meeting leaked out, since the two sides had agreed it would not be publicized.

A source told “Israel’s” Channel 12 TV that the news “embarrassed the king and it will definitely affect the ties” between Amman and Tel Aviv.

Bennett’s office contacted the Jordanians after the news of the meeting spread, and told them it was not responsible for the leak, “Israel’s” Kan News reported.

Leaks of the meeting came hours after “Israeli” foreign minister Yair Lapid met with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi, on the Jordanian side of the King Hussein Bridge, which connects the occupied West Bank with Jordan.

The Israeli Government Is Changing, but Some Things Remain the Same

Philip Giraldi

June 10, 2021

However, there is growing sentiment even in Congress and the Zionist controlled media that “what is wrong is wrong,” Phil Giraldi writes.

Israel is undergoing a change of management, with reliably hardline Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being replaced by extreme nationalist Naftali Bennett. Bennett has at intervals favored the disenfranchisement of non-Jewish Israeli citizens and the ethnic cleansing of all non-Jews from historic Palestine, killing them if necessary. He opposes the creation of any Palestinian state and routinely describes Palestinian protesters as terrorists while stating his belief that they should be shot on sight. He has also boasted of his shooting Palestinians during his military service, saying at one point “I already killed lots of Arabs in my life, and there is absolutely no problem with that.” He was heavily involved in “Operation Grapes of Wrath” in Lebanon in the 1980s, where his commando unit killed numerous civilians, and takes pleasure in recounting his participation in Israel’s war crimes.

All of which means that there will be no respite from the brutal Netanyahu reign of terror which has been prevailing on the West Bank, in Gaza and also in Jerusalem itself. If anything, the pressure on Arabs forcing them to leave will intensify. Evidence that the recently negotiated cease fire was little more than a pause in the plan to mitigate international pressure before continuing to make the former Palestine Palestinian free is already available. Israeli police and army units have been arresting hundreds of Arabs, many of whom are Israeli citizens, not because they have broken any of the “rules” imposed by the Netanyahu government, but as a preventive measure to have them identified, allowing them to be safely locked away when the next round of fighting begins. Eighteen hundred arrests have been reported since unrest began in April, but the figure is probably much higher than that. An estimated 25% of those who are detained are children and 85% of those children arrested report that they were physically abused.  Also, at least 26 Palestinians have been killed while resisting. It has been claimed that the police, embarrassed by being ridiculed by protesting Palestinians, are “settling scores” and “closing accounts,” frequently using savage beatings during arrests and as collective punishment to break the Arab resistance.

Israeli police have also been active at and around the al-Aqsa mosque, where they have been denying Muslims access to the holy site while promoting sightseeing visits by Israeli Jews. This is a clear violation of the rules established for access to the mosque and it sends a strong signal to Palestinians that there is more to come and the intention is clearly that they will eventually be removed by whatever means necessary from Greater Israel.

The Director for the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (ADALAH) Hassan Jabareen observed recently how the violence over the past month was deliberately provoked by Israel both to shore up Netanyahu’s electoral prospects while “the massive arrest campaign announced by Israeli police…is a militarized war against Palestinian citizens of Israel. This is a war against Palestinian demonstrators, political activists, and minors, employing massive Israeli police forces to raid the homes of Palestinian citizens.”

The Israelis, who clearly have a sense of humor, called the first phase of the mass arrests “Operation Law and Order.” The raids themselves have been carried out inside Israel itself and on the West Bank. Those Palestinians who are citizens of Israel have what has frequently been described as “second class rights” in the country’s judicial system. Although Israel claims its Arab citizens—roughly 20% of the nation’s population—have equality under the law, even the pro-Israel US State Department has repeatedly accused Israel of practicing “institutional and societal discrimination” toward its Arab citizens.

As a consequence, Palestinians who are arrested are indicted, charged and in some cases detained indefinitely under existing state of emergency and anti-terror legislation. A common charge is “incitement” which requires little or nothing in the way of evidence. Many of the arrested Palestinians have in fact been released after payment of exorbitant bails, averaging about $1,000. One Palestinian activist reportedly paying $7,400 to be set free.

It should be noted that the armed Jewish settlers who rioted in the lead up to last month’s fighting, destroying Palestinian homes and other property, have not been identified and detained by Israeli authorities. Activist Remi Kanazi notes how “Apartheid inside Israel is when Jewish Israeli mobs chant ‘Death to Arabs’ and brutalize Palestinians in their neighborhoods, while the cops do nothing, only for those same cops to conduct mass arrests of Palestinian citizens two weeks later.”

Outside of Israel proper, other Palestinians, who are citizens of the Palestinian Authority or who have United Nations documentation, have no rights at all under Israeli law and are being detained at will and, in many cases, indefinitely, without any access to legal counsel or to family members. Most of them were not doing anything illegal, even by Israeli standards, when they were arrested. They were guilty of being Palestinian.

In one example of how the process works, well-known Palestinian activist Iyad Burnat, who had previously been arrested at age 17 and imprisoned for two years for having thrown stones at Israeli soldiers has been targeted. He lives in Bil’in on the West Bank and has had his two sons abducted from their home in recent night invasions by Israeli security forces. Abdul Khaliq, 21 years old, was taken away on May 17th and Mohammed, 19 years old, was abducted on May 24th. They are being held in the Almasqubia detention center in Jerusalem and have been denied any contact either with their parents or legal counsel. The Israeli authorities have provided no explanation of why they were arrested in the first place.

In another recent example of the brutality of the Israeli police, al-Jazeera reports in detail how thirteen-year-old Mohammed Saadi was kidnapped, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with a gun to his head by five policemen working undercover in his hometown of Umm al-Fahem. Saadi was among thousands who gathered for a funeral procession held for Mohammed Kiwan, a 17-year-old boy who had been shot and killed by Israeli police a week earlier.

Activists among the Palestinians observe that the Israeli repression has proven counter-productive. Most Palestinians now understand that the Israelis intend to exterminate them. One observer notes that “The fear barrier has been broken. Israeli forces are up against a people who no longer have anything to lose. The young men in Jerusalem don’t see they have a future to look forward to, due to socioeconomic factors that is either the result of or exacerbated by the occupation policies towards them. These people are defending their right to exist, their homes and their homeland, and had it not been for their resistance, Jewish settlers would have taken control of many places in Jerusalem.”

Clearly, the Joe Biden administration will do nothing even if the Israeli government were to arrest and torture 100,000 Arabs, but there is growing sentiment even in Congress and the Zionist controlled media that “what is wrong is wrong.” Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s has twice introduced a bill, which is languishing in congressional committee, that calls on the United States to block aid to Israel that can be perceived as being used to arrest, beat and imprison children. Her legislation the Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act​ H.R. 2407 amends a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act known as the “Leahy Law” to prohibit funding for the military detention of children in any country, including Israel.

McCollum argues that an estimated 10,000 Palestinian children have been detained by Israeli security forces and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system since 2000. These children between the ages of 11 and 15 have sometimes been tortured using chokeholds, beatings, and coercive interrogation. As of September 2020 there were an estimated 157 children still detained in Israeli prisons, a number that has certainly gone up dramatically given the current crackdown by the police and army. Even though Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will surely block any attempt to let the McCollum bill see light of day one can at least honor the Congresswoman for what she is attempting to do and hope that some day the United States government will finally act honorably and help deliver liberty and justice for the long suffering Palestinians.

Israel’s new government will deepen rifts, not heal them

Mansour Abbas (R) signs a coalition agreement with Yair Lapid (L) and Naftali Bennett in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, on 2 June 2021 (AFP/United Arab List)

Jonathan Cook

4 June 2021 10:03 UT

The symbolic moment of a Palestinian party sitting in government alongside settler leaders will turn sour all too soon

The photo was unprecedented. It showed Mansour Abbas, leader of an Islamist party for Palestinians in Israel, signing an agreement on Wednesday night to sit in a “government of change” alongside settler leader Naftali Bennett.

Caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fervently try to find a way to break up the coalition in the next few days, before a parliamentary vote takes place. But if he fails, it will be the first time in the country’s 73-year history that a party led by a Palestinian citizen has joined – or been allowed to join – an Israeli government. 

There will be a reckoning for this moment, and Israel’s 1.8 million Palestinian citizens… will once again pay the heaviest price

Aside from the symbolism of the moment, there are no other grounds for celebration. In fact, the involvement of Abbas’s four-member United Arab List in shoring up a majority for a government led by Bennett and Yair Lapid is almost certain to lead to a further deterioration in majority-minority relations.

There will be a reckoning for this moment, and Israel’s 1.8 million Palestinian citizens, a fifth of the population, will once again pay the heaviest price.

The sole reason that this makeshift coalition exists – the only glue holding it together – is the hostility of the various parties towards Netanyahu. In most cases, that is not a hostility towards his political positions; simply towards him personally, and towards the corrupting stranglehold he has exerted on Israel’s political system for the past 12 years. 

The “change” referred to by this proposed government coalition begins and ends with the removal of Netanyahu.

Doubly offended

It barely needs stating again that Bennett, who will serve first as prime minister in rotation with Lapid, is even more right wing than Netanyahu. In fact, three of the new coalition’s main parties are at least, if not more, rabidly nationalistic than the Israel’s longtime leader. In any other circumstances, they would be enthusiastically heading into government with his Likud Party.

As Bennett and Mansour huddled inside a hotel near Tel Aviv to sign the coalition agreement as the clocked ticked down on Lapid’s mandate to form a government, far-right demonstrators noisily chanted outside that Bennett was joining a “government with terror supporters”.

Much of the ultra-nationalist right is so incensed by Bennett’s actions that he and other members of his Yamina party have been assigned a security detail for fear of an assassination attempt.

Bennett, set to serve first as prime minister, attends a special Knesset session on 2 June 2021 (AFP)
Bennett, set to serve first as prime minister, attends a special Knesset session on 2 June 2021 (AFP)

No one has forgotten that it was Bennett’s own settler camp that produced Yigal Amir, the man who in 1995 shot dead the then-prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, in a bid to foil the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians. Amir killed Rabin in large part because the latter was seen to have betrayed the Jewish people by allowing “Arabs” – Palestinian parties in parliament – to prop up his minority government from outside. They did so to pass legislation necessary to begin implementing the Oslo process.

The chain of events that followed the assassination are well-known. Israelis lurched further rightwards and elected Netanyahu. The Oslo track with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was derailed. A Palestinian intifada erupted. And – coming full circle – Netanyahu returned to power and is now Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

Today’s potential Yigal Amirs are doubly offended by Bennett’s behaviour. They believe he has stabbed the right’s natural leader, Netanyahu, in the back, while at the same time allowing Abbas – seen by the right as Hamas’s man in the Knesset – to dictate policy to the Jewish owners of the land.

Digging in heels

It was notable that Bennett and Abbas were the last to sign the coalition agreement, after both made great play of digging in their heels at the final moment for more concessions. Each risks inflaming their own constituency by being seen to cooperate with the other. 

Commentators will try to spin this agreement between a settler leader and the head of an Islamic party as a potential moment of healing after last month’s unprecedented inter-communal fighting inside Israel.Israel’s incoming government is so unnatural only Netanyahu can keep it togetherRead More »

But such a reading is as misleading as the narrative of the recent “Jewish-Arab clashes”. In fact, protests by Palestinian youths against systematic discrimination escalated into confrontations only after Israeli police turned violent and let Jewish gangs take the law into their own hands. Just as the balance of power on the streets was weighted in favour of Jewish vigilantism, so the balance of forces in this new coalition will work solidly against Abbas.

When Bennett spoke publicly on Sunday, as the horse-trading began in earnest behind the scenes, he underscored his credentials as the former head of the Yesha Council of Jewish settlements. That will be the theme of this proposed “government of change”. 

Pact with the ‘devil’

During the coalition-building negotiations, the more moderate Labor and Meretz parties conceded time and again to the demands of the far-right and settler parties on ministerial positions and policy. That is because the moderates have nowhere else to go. 

They have built their whole electoral strategy on ousting Netanyahu at any cost, using the anti-Netanyahu street protests of the past two years as their rallying cry. They cannot afford to be seen as missing this opportunity.

By contrast, as the death threats highlight, Bennett has far more to lose. Some 60 percent of his party’s voters recently told pollsters they would not have backed him had they known he would join a coalition with Lapid. Equally at risk are Gideon Saar, whose New Hope party broke away from Likud to challenge Netanyahu, and Avigdor Lieberman, a settler politician whose right-wing base has found in him their local strongman.

The Achilles heel Netanyahu will keep prodding as viciously as he can is the fact that his rivals on the right have made a Faustian pact with the Arab ‘devil’

These three must now do everything in their power during the term of this new government – if it happens – to prove to their constituencies that they are not betraying the far-right’s favourite causes, from settlements to annexation. Baiting them from the sidelines at every turn will be Netanyahu, stirring up passions on the right – at least until he is forced to step down, either by his party or by a verdict against him in his current corruption trial

The Achilles heel Netanyahu will keep prodding as viciously as he can is the fact that his rivals on the right have made a Faustian pact with the Arab “devil”. Netanyahu has never been shy to incite against the Palestinian minority. To imagine he will restrain himself this time is fanciful. 

Bennett understands the danger, which is why he tried to legitimise his dealings with Abbas on Thursday by calling him “a brave leader”. But Bennett was also keen to emphasise that Abbas would not be involved in any security matters and that he was not interested in “nationalism” – in this case, indicating that Abbas will neither offer support to Palestinians under occupation nor seek to advance national rights for Palestinian citizens of the kind Israeli Jews enjoy. 

Early on Thursday, Netanyahu had decried the new coalition as “dangerous” and “left wing”. He will most likely be in the driving seat, even while in opposition. Far from healing the country, a “government of change” could rapidly provoke yet more street violence, especially if Netanyahu believes such a deterioration would weaken Bennett as prime minister.

Extracting benefits

Abbas, the United Arab List leader, reportedly held out until last before signing. His whole electoral strategy was built on a promise to end the permanent exclusion of Palestinian parties from Israel’s national politics. He will be keen to show how many benefits he can extract from his role inside government – even if most are privileges the Jewish majority have always enjoyed by right.

Abbas trumpeted that the agreement would “provide solutions for the burning issues in Arab society – planning, the housing crisis, and of course, fighting violence and organised crime”. He has reportedly secured some $16bn in extra budgets for development and infrastructure, and three of the many Bedouin villages the state has long refused to recognise will be given legal status.

Abbas, the United Arab List leader, is pictured in Jerusalem on 5 April 2021 (AFP)
Abbas, the United Arab List leader, is pictured in Jerusalem on 5 April 2021 (AFP)

Abbas is also pushing for the repeal of a 2017 law that makes tens of thousands of homes in Palestinian communities inside Israel vulnerable to demolition.

One of his fellow legislators, Walid Taha, observed of the United Arab List’s new role: “For decades, Arab Israelis [Palestinian citizens] have been without any influence. Now, everyone knows that we’re the deciding votes as far as politics goes.”

Abbas has every incentive to use such claims as a whip to beat his rivals in the Joint List, a coalition of several other Palestinian parties that are staying in opposition. He needs to emphasise his role in bringing about change to make them look weak and irrelevant.

Hostility and disdain

But despite the promises that lured Abbas into the new government, he will face a rough ride getting any of them translated into tangible changes on the ground.

Lapid will be busy as foreign minister, selling this as a new era in Israeli politics. Meanwhile, Benny Gantz, the current defence minister who just oversaw the destruction yet again of Gaza, will offer continuity.

Back home, the key internal ministries will be held by the far-right. Lieberman will control the purse strings through the finance ministry, directing funds to settlements before Palestinian communities inside Israel. Bennett’s partner, Ayelet Shaked, will be interior minister, meaning the settlements in the occupied West Bank will be treated as more integral to Israel than the communities of Palestinian citizens. And Saar will be justice minister, helping to drive the legal system even further to the right.Israel: Four reasons Benjamin Netanyahu’s era is not over yetRead More »

Faced with this bloc, all of them keen to be seen as upholding the values of the right, Abbas will struggle to make any progress. And that is without considering the situation he will find himself in if Bennett pushes for annexation of the West Bank, or authorises another police invasion of al-Aqsa, or oversees the expulsion of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, or launches a fresh attack on Gaza. 

Abbas put the coalition negotiations on pause during Israel’s assault on Gaza last month. He won’t be able to do the same from inside the government. He will be directly implicated. 

As a result, Palestinian citizens are likely to end up growing even more disillusioned with a political system that has always treated them with a mix of hostility and disdain. They will finally have representatives inside government, but will continue to be very much outside of it. The triggers for the protests that erupted among young Palestinians in Israel last month are not going away.  

The most likely scenario over the coming months is that Netanyahu and Bennett will engage in a furious competition for who deserves the title of champion of the right. Netanyahu will seek to break apart the coalition as quickly as possible by inciting against Abbas and the Palestinian minority, so he has another shot at power. In turn, Bennett will try to pressure Likud to abandon Netanyahu so that Bennett can collapse the “government of change” as quickly as possible and rejoin a large majority, far-right government with Likud. 

Rifts will not be healed; coexistence will not be revived. But the preeminence of the ultra-nationalist right – with or without Netanyahu – will be restored. 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

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What to Know About Naftali Bennett, the Zionist PM in the Making?

What to Know About Naftali Bennett, the Zionist PM in the Making?

Designed by: Rabab al-Husseini

What to Know About Naftali Bennett, the Zionist PM in the Making?

Netanyahu Urges Knesset Members to Oppose ‘Dangerous Left-Wing Gov’t’

 June 3, 2021

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on all of the right-wing members of the Knesset to oppose the new government presented by Knesset opposition leader Yair Lapid to President Reuven Rivlin late Wednesday.

In his first tweet since the announcement that could see Netanyahu unseated as prime minister, he lashed out at the “dangerous left-wing government”, accusing Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu’s potential successor, of “selling” the Negev Desert region to the United Arab List, an Arab political party known as Ra’am in the Zionist entity.

For the first time ever, the United Arab List has joined a coalition. According to the party, Bennett and Lapid promised to grant official status to Bedouin settlements in the Negev Desert.

Late on Wednesday, Yair Lapid, the leader of the Zionist entity’s largest opposition party Yesh Atid, notified President Reuven Rivlin of successfully managing to form a government coalition.

According to Israeli media, the head of the Yamina national conservative alliance, Naftali Bennett, will serve as Israel’s prime minister for two years before being replaced by Lapid as per a rotation basis.

Lapid was picked to form a new government by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in May, after Netanyahu was unable to form a government in time following the 23 March vote.

Over the course of the past two years, the Zionist entity has held four parliamentary elections yet the winning parties proved unable to form a stable coalition.

Source: Agencies

Israel election: The triumph of Kahanism

As Netanyahu looks to cobble together his farthest-right coalition yet, western democratic governments and diaspora Jewish leaders need to take a stand

An Israeli man walks past an electoral billboard bearing portraits of Netanyahu flanked by extreme-right politicians, including Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, in Jerusalem in 2019 (AFP)
Richard Silverstein writes the Tikun Olam blog, devoted to exposing the excesses of the Israeli national security state. His work has appeared in Haaretz, the Forward, the Seattle Times and the Los Angeles Times. He contributed to the essay collection devoted to the 2006 Lebanon war, A Time to Speak Out (Verso) and has another essay in the collection, Israel and Palestine: Alternate Perspectives on Statehood (Rowman & Littlefield) Photo of RS by: (Erika Schultz/Seattle Times)

Richard Silverstein

24 March 2021 15:13 UTC |

The biggest winners in Tuesday’s Israeli election appear to be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the little-known Religious Zionist Party. Behind the milquetoast name is an alliance of some of the most extreme Kahanist elements in Israeli politics.

According to the results announced so far, a race that had been predicted as a virtual tie between centrist and rightist parties may offer Netanyahu a narrow path to a renewed term as prime minister. Far-right and religious parties, likely coalition partners for Netanyahu, were victorious in the election.

At the time of publication, however, it remained unclear as to whether this coalition would be able to secure the needed 61-seat majority.

The question is: will the suspicion and hostility with which some of these party leaders, such as Gideon Saar and Naftali Bennett, view Netanyahu outweigh their desire for political power? If history is any judge, they will put aside their personal rancour and play the political game.

Collapse of Blue and White

Election turnout was 67 percent, down from the most recent election and the lowest percentage since 2013. The initial results would suggest that many of those who elected not to vote had previously supported the moderate parties that performed better in the last election.

There are two critical factors leading to this outcome. The first was the near-collapse of the centre-right Blue and White coalition, which won 33 seats in the last Knesset. The decision by its then-leader, Benny Gantz, to desert his partners and enter a coalition with Netanyahu led to a drastic decline in its vote share. With close to 90 percent of Tuesday’s vote counted, Blue and White picked up only eight seats, while Yesh Atid, which split from Blue and White last year, won 17. This fracture essentially destroyed the centre-right as a viable alternative to Netanyahu’s far-right Likud-led coalition.

Diaspora Jewish leaders could declare that Netanyahu has gone too far, and refuse to raise funds for Israel or to attend meetings with Israeli government officials

Voters who abandoned Gantz did not necessarily turn to his former partners in Yesh Atid, which represented a moderate option, nor to Likud, which lost several seats compared to the last election. They were likely disenchanted with Netanyahu and the multiple corruption charges he faces, so they turned to newly formed parties generally even farther to the right.

By fleeing to parties likely to join a governing coalition with Likud, however, they might have guaranteed an outcome they did not foresee. Postponed until after the election, Netanyahu’s corruption trial is scheduled to resume in early April, and Likud sources have pointed to legislative outcomes that could provide him immunity from conviction while in office, including passage of the “French Law”.

A more draconian and controversial method would be for a new justice minister to fire the current attorney general and appoint one who would dismiss the charges, eliminating the greatest threat to Netanyahu’s continuing on as leader.

Extreme nationalist views

Though there are regular protests against Netanyahu’s corruption, which would likely increase if charges were dropped, it is unlikely they would reach a tipping point and lead to Netanyahu stepping down. Even if he did, the rivals waiting in the wings are no less extreme in their nationalist views; the country would merely be swapping one Judeo-supremacist autocrat for another.

Voters who turned away from Blue and White appear to have favoured soft-right parties, such as Saar’s New Hope, and some even farther right than Likud, including Bennett’s Yamina and the Kahanist Religious Zionist Party, led by Bezalel Smotrich.   

Head of Israel's Jewish Power (Otzma Yehudit) party Itamar Ben Gvir (R) talks to supporters through Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, on 19 March (AFP)
Head of Israel’s Jewish Power (Otzma Yehudit) party Itamar Ben Gvir (R) talks to supporters through Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, on 19 March (AFP)

Smotrich was once apprehended by the Shin Bet for allegedly plotting a terror attack to protest Israel’s Gaza withdrawal, although charges were never laid. He once boldly claimed that Jews cannot be terrorists; in other words, one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.

In 2006, to protest the Gay Pride parade, he organised a “parade of beasts”, in which goats and donkeys were marched through the streets of Jerusalem. He has called himself a “proud homophobe”. He has served as an MK with the Yamina alliance and as minister of transportation.

Smotrich is allied with Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose political evolution as a youth led him into the arms of far-right Rabbi Meir Kahane. According to a Haaretz report: “First, he joined the youth movement affiliated with Moledet, a right-wing political party that advocated ‘transferring’ Israeli Arabs out of the country. But that turned out to be too tame for him. So not long thereafter, he defected to Kach, the eventually outlawed racist party founded by the American-born Rabbi Kahane. ‘I found in this movement a lot of love for the Jewish people, a lot of truth, and a lot of justice,’ says Ben-Gvir.”

Breaking with precedent

As a teenager, Ben-Gvir gained notoriety in 1995, when he vandalised then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s vehicle and brandished its Cadillac hood ornament, boasting: “We got the car. We’ll get to Rabin too.” Rabin was murdered only weeks later by another Kahanist.

Ben-Gvir is now the go-to defence lawyer for settlers charged with terrorist attacks against Palestinians. He is the Israeli equivalent of US lawyer and politician Rudy Giuliani, except instead of representing sleazy crooks, he represents accused mass murderers. He lives in Hebron, among the most violent of settler enclaves, where Jews and Palestinians are separated by barbed wire, locked metal gates and thousands of Israeli soldiers, who protect the settlers from the wrath of the indigenous population.Israel election: Latest results show Netanyahu without clear path to power.

Despite several prior attempts, Ben-Gvir has never served in the Knesset. His alliance succeeded this time for one reason only: Netanyahu made clear to far-right voters that if they weren’t voting Likud, he preferred they vote for the Religious Zionists. He also said the party would be a coalition partner in his next government, a striking break with previous precedent.

In 1988, Kahane’s newly founded Kach Party was so far outside the mainstream that the government banned it, and both Israel and the US have declared Kach to be a terrorist organisation. No Israeli leader has ever promoted an explicitly Kahanist party, let alone agreed to include one in a governing coalition – meaning it’s likely the Religious Zionists will obtain at least one ministerial portfolio representing the interests of their settler constituency. This offers unprecedented access to Israeli protocols and power.

This should not be surprising to anyone aware of the history of the Zionist movement. At least two former Israeli prime ministers, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, were accused terrorists, linked to the King David Hotel bombing, the Deir Yassin massacre and the assassination of UN peace negotiator Count Folke Bernadotte, among other crimes.

Flirting with terrorists

There is one powerful way in which the world could respond to Netanyahu’s flirtation with supporters of Jewish terrorism: the US government, UN and EU could declare this government persona non grata, and refuse to have any dealings with it. It would be a diplomatic version of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

Israel is united in its determination to pursue racist, apartheid policies. The world is not united in opposing them

Diaspora Jewish leaders could declare that Netanyahu has gone too far, and refuse to raise funds for Israel or to attend meetings with Israeli government officials.

Contrary to what some believe, international pressure works. While Israel may complain grievously about bias towards it, when push comes to shove, such pressure works in modifying Israeli behaviour – though usually not in significant ways, as Israel does the bare minimum to avoid international censure.

Regardless, a united front of western democratic governments and diaspora Jewish leaders would offer a powerful statement, defining a red line that Israel has crossed. And yet, the likelihood of this happening is almost nil. Israel is united in its determination to pursue racist, apartheid policies. The world is not united in opposing them. It dithers while Rome burns.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

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