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Reviews | The Israelis returned Benjamin Netanyahu to power. The Palestinians will probably pay the price.


The Jewish Power and Religious Zionism party platforms focus almost exclusively on Palestinians and ensuring that Jewish supremacy prevails. The party of Religious Zionism aims to retroactively legitimize settlements in the West Bank.

I fear that Israel’s violent repression of Palestinians will only increase in the near future if I consider the record of Mr. Netanyahu and his previous coalitions – a history of relentless racial baiting and incitement of prejudice against Palestinians. in Israel, the passage of the Nation-State Law (which enshrines the privilege of Jewish citizens), the policy of open fire, Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian homes, its continued colonization of the West Bank and bombing repeated massive attacks from Gaza.

With Mr. Ben-Gvir, Mr. Smotrich and other extremists in his coalition, Mr. Netanyahu will most likely continue down this path, especially since he was the catalyst for so many of these policies. Jewish power and religious Zionism are natural extensions of Mr. Netanyahu’s policies. Not recognizing it is like sticking your head in the sand.

If there is a silver lining to our grim predicament, it may be that the rise of Mr. Ben-Gvir and his fellow extremists will open the eyes of more Americans. Some former State Department officials and diplomats have already called on the Biden administration not to deal with the most extreme members of Israel’s new coalition. American Jewish groups have also expressed concern over the new coalition. But US policy is unlikely to change in response to this grim news. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken of “equal measures of freedom, security, opportunity, justice and dignity” for Israelis and Palestinians, but what guarantees will he offer for Palestinians to live in freedom and security with this new government?

As Israel drifted even further to the right, the United States and other Western governments continued to normalize and legitimize extremists once considered beyond reproach – from notorious former general Ariel Sharon, when he became Prime Minister, to the ultranationalist and settler Avigdor. Lieberman when Netanyahu, in his second term as prime minister, appointed him cabinet minister in 2009.

At the time, the appointment of Mr. Lieberman – who called for loyalty oaths for Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel and a redrawing of borders that would strip Palestinians of their Israeli citizenship – was widely criticized. But soon enough, US and European officials met with Mr. Leiberman.

There is little hope that it won’t happen this time too, and what was unthinkable just a few years ago will become a reality, with Palestinians inevitably paying the heaviest price for Israel’s electoral choices.

Diana Buttu is a lawyer and former adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization negotiating team.

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