Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in his third term, and he has yet to get an invitation to visit Washington. Despite the fact that there are numerous subjects for discussion. Consider, for example, how strongly everyone around the world, including Americans, condemned the far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s call for the Palestinian town of Huwara to be “wiped out.” Smotrich, the head of Netanyahu’s hardline coalition’s pro-settler party, made harsh public comments amid a succession of deadly punitive operations against Palestinians and Israeli settler violence in the occupied West Bank. The White House and Joe Biden “got nervous” over other similarly harsh statements made by Israeli ministers in light of the complex situation that is currently playing out not only in Israel but also throughout the Middle East. And not at all in favor of the USA.
According to World Israel News, if Israeli officials had made the same claims in private, Netanyahu would already be meeting with Biden in the Oval Office. But Joe Biden doesn’t want to endanger his campaign for a second term as president as the presidential election draws near. Yet, this year, three to four billion dollars in military aid from American taxpayers will continue to go to Israel. This is the same military aid that Israel uses in its crimes against Palestinians.
While the White House declined to clarify whether Netanyahu would still be invited, a State Department official directed reporters to the Cabinet of Israel for information on the prime minister’s intentions for such a trip. David Makowski of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy believes that “the message the US clearly wants to send is: If you follow unwanted policies, you have no right to sit in the Oval Office.” A senior Israeli official, who wished to remain unnamed, was quoted in US media reports on the matter as stating that the US position was not unexpected given that the two sides had been at odds on a number of topics for decades. Nonetheless, the official stated that “the solid relationship between Israel and the United States has not and will not be damaged as a result of these disputes.”
Two major crises that Israel is currently experiencing are affecting Netanyahu’s cabinet. Since the beginning of the year, protesters have crowded the streets of major cities to voice their opposition to the government’s proposal to curtail the authority of the so-called Supreme Court, which detractors claim will force Israelis to live under a dictatorship. Footage from Tel Aviv, where police actively used tasers and fought with Israeli protesters, was widely circulated.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet warned last month of a “civil war in Israel” and called for talks on Netanyahu’s amendments. “There may be a settlement on judicial amendments,” Bennett said. “There are things that need to be fixed and changed, but we shouldn’t go from one extreme to the other.” At the same time, Bennett added that “the majority wants adjustments, not system changes,” warning against a civil war “over nothing.”
Former Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit believes the current security crisis has only just begun, and he predicts “bloodshed.” According to Israeli media, Mandelblit said, “We are only at the beginning of the conflict. The situation will continue to worsen, and there will be bloodshed inside Israel.”
The Knesset (Israeli parliament) is trying to overthrow the so-called judicial system. On first reading, the law received 63 votes in favor, which is more than the quorum’s required threshold. The goal of the action is to make the Knesset stronger so that Netanyahu’s hardline alliance can maintain its majority and overturn Supreme Court rulings. Members of the Knesset will have more influence in the selection of judges as a result of Netanyahu’s actions.
Netanyahu is allegedly attempting to utilize the reforms to remove a lot of accusations against himself that are related to 2019 according to the protest organizers. Fraud, bribery, and breach of trust are among the charges and scandals. According to Israeli media, hundreds of thousands of settlers protested in Tel Aviv and other settlements in the occupied areas, including Jerusalem, as well as outside President Isaac Herzog’s residence. The president urged Netanyahu’s cabinet to halt reforms and speak with the opposition in order to reach a consensus. Despite not ruling out conversation, the ruling cabinet refused to defer or postpone the reform vote. The president of Israel warned that the situation was going to erupt.
Netanyahu’s political opponents slammed the moves as an attempt to “abolish the courts.” The suggested measures, according to Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid, are an attempt by the prime minister to avert continuous corruption cases. “Just because they have a majority in parliament does not mean… that they can demolish the Supreme Court simply because the prime minister has been indicted,” Lapid stated.
The so-called reforms open the path for additional issues that the regime will be concerned about. Analysts worry that Netanyahu’s policies will have a long-term negative impact on Israel’s economic growth and the living standards of Israeli settlers. Although the judicial reform has not yet taken effect, it has already had an impact on the Israeli shekel. The planned reforms, in the opinion of businesspeople and economists, would jeopardize Israel’s investment interests in the occupied territories. According to Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Netanyahu’s obsession with supposed reforms has brought the government to the “depths of a serious crisis,” with the threat of civil war looming.
The Supreme Court justified all crimes and atrocities committed against Palestinians, so this has nothing to do with them. This includes the ongoing expansion of settlements, which are illegal under international law yet are approved by the US.
According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who also expressed “grave concern” about the proposal, the US supposedly opposes allowing Israel to establish Jewish settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank. This action came less than two weeks after he expressed the opposition of the United States to such measures during his visit to the region. According to the Tehran Times, it is probable that the Secretary of State covertly supported this type of conduct, despite his words of “condemnation” by Washington. As usual, there is a game going on here that is costing the Palestinians dearly.
Simultaneously, the United States continues to utilize its veto power in the UN Security Council to allow illegal Israeli settlements to thrive. Other than public words to calm the international community, Blinken has exhibited no significant resistance to settlement expansion. The hypocrisy of the Secretary of State is astounding: “We strongly oppose such unilateral measures, which exacerbate tensions and undermine the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution.” Ned Price, the spokesman for the US State Department, went even further in his euphemisms, asserting that Blinken had made it clear during his visit to the occupied territories that he opposed the legalization of settlements.
The increase of violence in the occupied West Bank is Israel’s second crisis. Punitive actions have intensified since young Palestinians started using armed resistance earlier this year, including numerous Israeli crimes against humanity.
Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk condemned the current actions of the Israeli authorities as “an incomprehensible declaration of incitement to violence and hostility.” According to this international organization, at least 65 Palestinian adults and children have been killed by Israeli Security Forces since the beginning of the year. “Settlements in the occupied territories must be stopped soon; the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is tragic. A catastrophe, first and foremost, for the Palestinian people,” both Türk and the entire world agree.
Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”