Tue 11 Jun 2024 2:40 pm - Jerusalem Time

What Netanyahu has in store for us?

Secretary Blinken’s comment that the “ceasefire-hostage-Palestinian prisoners” deal is entirely in the hands of Hamas is not entirely correct. In his speech from two weeks ago, President Biden said that the deal would lead to the end of the war. He noted that the first 6-week ceasefire would continue even if the negotiations on phase 2 were not completed. Hamas has stated categorically that there would be no deal if there is not a clear obligation to end the war. Netanyahu has members of his government have explicitly stated that there would not be an end to the war before Hamas is destroyed.


Ending the war without a political alternative to who will control Gaza after the war means that Hamas will remain in place. The only way to enable a Palestinian alternative to Hamas willing and able to take control of Gaza is for there to be a coherent political plan linked to a clear path to Palestinian statehood for the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Netanyahu is far from that possibility.


Netanyahu’s plan is to remain in Gaza, at least militarily, for years. Netanyahu’s thinking is based on the hope/belief that eventually the Israeli army will find and kill the Hamas leaders – mainly the Sinwar brothers and Mohammed Deif. He believes that once those top leaders are killed the hostages will be released. If the top Hamas leaders are killed by Israeli forces, there is a very good possibility that the remaining living hostages will be killed. At least, this possibility should not be thought to be unreasonable. In addition, the Israeli military pressure has already led to the killing of too many of the hostages.


I believe that staying in Gaza, militarily will lead inevitably lead to renewed Israeli settlement in Gaza, especially if Netanyahu’s “full right-wing” government remains in place. Israeli continued presence in Gaza will strengthen Hamas and new recruits will join from bereaved families and from people who have lost their homes and businesses – and that is basically every person in Gaza. Armed insurgency against Israeli troops in Gaza will continue and increase.  Armed attacks against Israelis in the West Bank will increase and maybe even cross the green-line border to neighboring Israeli communities. The war in Lebanon will escalate and many Hezbollah rockets and missiles will be shot at Israel.  


Hasn’t Netanyahu already done too much harm and damage to Israel? Since 2009 he convinced Israelis and the world that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be managed. He led Israelis and the world to believe Israel could occupy and dominate the Palestinian people for 56 years and still have peace. He enabled Israelis to believe that 18 years of economic blockade and siege of 2.2 million people in Gaza with extreme poverty and a fanatic Islamic regime could enable quiet because of suitcases of cash being transported to Gaza. He led Israelis and the world to believe that without even trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel could make peace with the entire Arab world while Palestine remains under occupation. Repeated rounds of elections in Israel confronted only one issue:   Netanyahu yes or Netanyahu no. Not once did the elections focus on the primary existential issue facing Israel – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


For years Israelis have been lying to themselves. Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state. Yet with more than seven million Palestinians and seven million Israeli Jews between the River and the Sea, Israel is neither Jewish nor democratic. On October 7, 2023 all of the lies and manipulations blew up in our face. The Israel Defense Force had become an Israeli Occupation Police Force, not even deployed on Israel’s southern border with Gaza. It was a holiday weekend, but nonetheless, the army was in the West Bank protecting illegal Israeli settlers instead of defending Israel’s borders. And even after all of Netanyahu’s lies and manipulations, he absolutely refuses to take responsibility. Netanyahu should have resigned on the night of October 7. This is what would have happened in any other genuinely democratic country. But Netanyahu has no shame and like the Trump followers in the USA, Netanyahu has a crowd of hypnotized blind members of a personality cult with their own television and radio stations who spread fake news, lies, incitement and hatred.


Now that Gantz and his party have finally left the government and hopefully fully understand the lies and manipulations of Netanyahu, perhaps the millions of Israelis who are beginning to see our reality with open eyes will take to the streets. Perhaps the lead negotiators, if they have integrity – Dede Barnea, Ronen Bar, and Nitzan Alon - will resign from leading the negotiations because it is not possible to bring the hostages home without an obligation to end the war. When I spoke with members of the negotiating team more than a month ago, I made it clear – in my assessment – that without a political end game, there is next to zero possibility of reaching a deal with Hamas that will bring the hostages home. The negotiators know, not just because I told them, that they should be negotiating for all of the hostages now and not only 18 of them. They know that the war must end. But as they told me “We cannot deal with the political issues”. Being that there is no military solution here, and there never has been, without dealing with the political issues, there is no end game.


Netanyahu not only failed to protect Israel on October 7 of last year. He continues to be the most dangerous person to Israel’s future. Now, we the people, must stand up and take to the streets and for the sake of our future and our country, we must bring down our government.


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