Israeli election spells no change for Palestinians

Journalist Robert Inlakesh says it makes no difference who becomes the next Israeli Prime Minister, Palestinians will lose either way.

As Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a major blow to the benefit of opposition leader Benny Gantz in the Israeli snap elections, Israel is now being perceived to have voted for change.

But what sort of change will be coming to Israel, given a Benny Gantz led coalition, and will Netanyahu actually be ousted or will Israel head into a third round of elections due to the current deadlock?

Many will already know a little about the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, with his corruption scandals, war-waging and racist rhetoric towards Palestinians and Africans, being just a few of the many dynamics of his infamous career.

For the Palestinian people, Netanyahu is a man who describes peoples of neigbouring countries and territories as “wild beasts”, says that Israel has to build walls to protect itself, and is evidently not a good man to see in a position of power.

But unfortunately for peace and stability in the region, the record of Benny Gantz is not very different.

Who is Benny Gantz?

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Benny Gantz could be Israel’s next Prime Minister and is an ex-Chief of Staff for the IDF, having served between 2011 and 2015. He is most infamous for his roles in the killing of 167 Palestinians in 2012 and the Gaza massacre of 2014, resulting in the murder of 2,202 Palestinians.

The Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) Party front man is not in favour of a two-state solution, he does not support any Palestinian state. Rather, he believes in maintaining Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem; he believes in making Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza even tighter; he believes in complete Israeli domination of Jerusalem; and he believes that Israel must maintain its illegal annexation of Syria’s Golan region, as well as annexed Lebanese land in the North.

So Benny Gantz’s foreign policy is essentially the same as Netanyahu’s and if asked to form a coalition government, he will likely carry on exactly where the last Prime Minister left off.

In short, Gantz carries on in a similar fashion to Netanyahu, minus the pictures, diagrams and pointer pen, proclaiming that Israel must never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon and that Israel must crush Hezbollah and Hamas.

Benny Gantz

Speaking at AIPAC earlier this year, his speech could have been an exact double of Netanyhau’s when it came to his rhetoric on Iran, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians.

Gantz is not only a former Chief of Staff for Israel’s military – his career highlight being the 51 days of destruction in Gaza during “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014 – but he used his past during his campaign in order to garner the votes necessary to challenge Netanyahu.

Gantz even released an ad campaign video in which he brags about killing thousands of Palestinians sending parts of Gaza “back to the stone age”. Interestingly, the very day of the Israeli election there was a Dutch court hearing for a war crimes case against the Israeli ex-general for his participation in the murder of 7 Palestinians killed in a specific airstrike.

Netanyahu’s downfall

Benjamin Netanyahu ran his election campaign on racism against Arabs and specifically Palestinians, inside of Israel and outside of it. He also ran his campaign on whether Israel was wishing to be a more religious or secular society.

A third notable point in his campaign was his “security” component, in which he stirred up tensions with Iraq, Syria, Gaza and Lebanon in order to make himself appear strong.

However, despite his attempt to play to the Israeli public’s racist sentiments and his attempts to divide and scare the Israeli population into submission, he failed.

His racism against Israeli Arabs produced an unprecedented 60% voter turnout from that community, making the “Arab Joint List” the third largest party inside of the Knesset. This is because roughly 20% of Israel’s citizens are Palestinian Arabs. The turnout is understood to be a reaction to Netanyahu in order to combat him.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

His promise of security to Israelis was also not good enough, in part because of his embarrassing losses and inability to deal with armed factions inside of Gaza.

But perhaps the biggest factor in Netanyahu’s downfall was his own former Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who still has the power to maintain or break the current PM. Netanyahu would have formed a coalition government earlier this year, however, the former Defence Minister prevented him from doing so by rejecting an offer to join the coalition.

At the time of the last election, the move by Lieberman was taken due to a disagreement over mandatory conscription of the Ultra-Orthodox into the military. The bad blood however, began with a flare up between the Israeli military and armed factions in Gaza in November of 2018, when Gazan resistance factions dealt an embarrassing blow to Israel, resulting in the resignation of Lieberman after Netanyahu refused to start an all-out war.

What next for Palestinians?

If Benjamin Netanyahu wins, he may follow through with his campaign promise to annex the Jordan Valley – which officially constitutes 30% of the West Bank. However, due to the situation on the ground it’s closer to 40% – meaning that close to 100,000 Palestinians could be ethnically cleansed from their villages and towns.

Netanyahu may also want revenge on Gaza for the resistance daring to fight back, possibly initiating a new massacre of the Gazan population.

If Benny Gantz wins, he has vowed to be tougher on Gaza, which may mean more executions of unarmed demonstrators at Gaza’s Great Return March, as well as a possible tightening of the blockade and a new war. \

Gantz is also a lot less experienced as a politician and could make reckless moves in the region.

One positive to a Gantz Prime Minister win, could be a decline in Israel’s hold over Washington, as nobody has the connections of Netanyahu in the U.S. However if the ex-general is asked to form a coalition by the Israeli President, Netanyahu may try to initiate a war in order to get a third election.

Ultimately, it does not matter whether Gantz or Netanyahu wins the position of Prime Minister, the Palestinians lose either way.

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