Netanyahu may be gone, but his uncompromising foreign policy remains
After two years of repeated and inconclusive Israeli elections, the advent of a new coalition government has finished the long era of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu may be gone, but he leaves a legacy of hawkish policies that will likely remain intact.
Like a Middle East policy specialistI think Netanyahu will be remembered widely internationally for three things. These are thwart the emergence of a Palestinian state, reinforcement of the Israeli military force, and oppose Iranian power in the Middle East.
Distancing the Palestinians
Netanyahu, known as “Bibi” to most Israelis, was prime minister from 1996 to 1999. He returned to power a decade later. He began his first term as Prime Minister in 1996 with two main qualities: extensive experience in the United States and a record as security hawk.
The first grade meant that he had a good understanding of US politics and interest groups, an advantage for maintain and strengthen the strong support of the US government for Israel.
The second prepared him for success in a country where the the military is a key national institution – and revered.
Netanyahu pledged to avoid compromise with the Palestinians in the areas of the West Bank and Gaza under Israeli military control since 1967, and it enabled the rapid expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. He rarely deviated from these two policies.
His party was rejected in 1999 but returned to power amid the Palestinian uprisings it started in 2000. After nearly a decade in and out of the Likud government cabinets, he became Prime Minister again in 2009.
Among his most tangible legacies is the physical barrier now separating Palestinians in the West Bank from Israelis, which gives the Israeli authorities great control over how Palestinians from the West Bank enter Israel.
The barrier prevented Israeli Jews from having much contact with Palestinians, outside of military service.
This physical separation and a strong Israeli military presence have decrease in Palestinian attacks in Israel and increased misery in areas under Palestinian control.
His approach limited pressure on Jewish Israelis to strike a final deal that would trade the occupied lands for a broader peace. It also deprived Palestinians of fundamental freedoms and opportunities, especially in Gaza.
Long term massive US foreign aid and military assistance and Netanyahu’s support ensured that The Israeli army is much more powerful and well equipped than the armed forces of any other neighboring country.
Netanyahu used this formidable army to strike hard when he deems it necessary in Gaza, the area between Israel and Egypt that Israel unilaterally returned to Palestinian control in 2004. Hamas, a Palestinian group that advocates military action against Israel, is in charge of Gaza.
Reflecting the feelings of a growing number of right-wing Jewish Israelis, Netanyahu had a reply ongoing concerns about Hamas and the Palestinians in general. Israel, he argued, expects Palestinian concessions that Israel is a Jewish state, with Jerusalem as its capital, and without the right for Palestinians to return to their pre-1948 homes in Israel.
A lot Palestinians find these conditions unfair in general, in particular as a precondition for negotiations.
Associated to the vast expansion of his government of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, many seasoned observers doubt that a two state solution the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock remains possible. At the same time, major violence in May 2021, which mixed Palestinians and Israelis in Gaza, in Israel proper and in the West Bank, recalled that the conflict always matters.
Netanyahu has also relentlessly sought to curb Iran’s efforts to bolster its power through funding of pro-Tehran militant groups in the Middle-East.
Tehran’s rulers are incessantly hostile to Israel. Yet Netanyahu exaggerated this hostility towards domestic and international audiences, even urging the United States to attack Iran.
The Prime Minister’s anti-Iran campaign apparently paid off when the US government withdrew from the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran under which the obama administration negotiated. Netanyahu claims he persuaded the president Donald trump to go back.
Reshaping Israeli alliances
Undermining the Palestinian state, strengthening the army and aggressively countering the Iranian threat have had three important ramifications.
First, Israeli and American Jews diverged more and more about the ethics and importance of Palestinian autonomy.
Second, the Prime Minister’s long tenure and his desire to fan the flames of sectarianism endeared him to other leaders who adopt authoritarian or divisive tactics, such as Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Asset.
Third, Netanyahu’s political longevity and positions have recently drawn cautious support from key Arab leaders who appear more concerned with their stability and Iranian politics than with a Palestinian state.
So, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have increasing levels of cooperation with Israel. This trend expanded under Trump, leading to the 2020 Abraham’s Agreements, what Netanyahu wrongly thought would rule out the Palestinian problem further.
Netanyahu fundamentally reshaped Israel and the wider Middle East. It is clear that the country’s military capacity and cooperation with the rich Arab states in the region have grown. But for several years I have seen the darker side of the former prime minister’s emphasis on military solutions in the erosion of global support for Israeli policies and the deterioration of conditions for the Palestinians.
This article was originally published on The conversation. Read it original article.
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