The Israel-Palestine conflict and Netanyahu’s game plan
By: Rayees Masroor
The Israeli Palestine conflict is not new and dates back to 1948 when the state of Israel was established on the Arab land. The conflict which began in mid 20th century has been one of the most complicated conflicts of the world and yet there is no amicable solution that has been found and therefore no immediate hope for a solution in the near future especially under the present circumstances in the world.
The conflict between the Jews and the Muslim Arabs is over a piece of land between Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea. When Ottoman Empire fell after the world War first and the British controlled over the Palestine, this created the ground for the establishment of a Jewish state of Israel. After the Holocaust, Jews claimed Palestine to be their home while the Arabs too held their ground and claimed it. At this point the international community supported the Jewish claim and eventually in the year 1948 Jews declared the creation of Israel amid Palestinians objection which led to an armed conflict between Jews and the neighboring Arab states. Israel gained maximum control over the territory after this during the 1967 war and captured East Jerusalem, West Bank and Golan Heights which eventually sparked the ongoing conflict.
The major reason for the conflict is the claim of both countries over Jerusalem which is home to major holy sites of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Amid a complex historical baggage and the Jewish Arab conflicts, the situation is also shaped by the internal politics within Israel and Palestine. Hamas which has been controlling the Gaza strip since 2007 has not been in good terms with the PO president Mahmood Abbas.
During the last few years there have been many conflicts and skirmishes between Hamas and the Israeli forces the latest being the one which began this Ramadan in sheikh Jarrah in which more than 300 lives have already been lost. As already mentioned, the dynamics of the conflict are also shaped by the domestic political situations, many political observers believe that the ongoing conflict is the political victory for Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister.
Before this escalation Netanyahu seemed on the verge of losing his premiership which he has held for the last 12 years. His rivals, Yair Lapid of the center-right Yesh Atid party and Naftali Bennett of the right-wing nationalist Yamina party, were in talks to form a government to unsettle Netanyahu. The United Arab List would have provided the last few seats to Lapid and Bennett needed to secure a majority in the Knesset (120 member). But the ongoing conflict with Hamas spoiled those negotiations and as a result, Bennett announced that the government of change was not on the table anymore and he had resumed negotiations with Netanyahu’s Likud party. This is worthwhile to mention that there have been four parliamentary elections in two years in which neither Netanyahu nor his rivals have been able to achieve a majority coalition.
This horse trading, as a result of the present conflict, has given a new lease of life to Netanyahu who is currently on trial for corruption and a more secure hold on the political position would better place him to seek some immunity. He is also planning to bring about a change in the entire political system in order to seek a direct mandate for the prime ministry independent of the knesset which reflects his desperation to stay in the power.
It is quite ironic that the current escalation and the war with Hamas should benefit Netanyahu politically because in reality it reflects his failures. Such a political game by Netanyahu to consolidate his power at the cost of war should certainly raise eyebrows around the world but so far US and other allies of Israel have stood with Netanyahu and supported his aggression against Palestine. There might be a truce in the coming days and the conflict will come to a halt but this will be short lived and there is long road ahead.
The writer is counselor at IGNOU [email protected]