The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not new and dates back to 1948 when the state of Israel was established on Arab land. The conflict has been one of the most dangerous and devastating conflicts in the world and yet there is no amicable solution that has been found so far, nor is there any hope of finding it anytime soon, especially under the present circumstances. The present situation of war has been shaped by internal politics both within Israel and Palestinian territories. Hamas, which has been controlling the Gaza strip since 2007, has not been on good terms with the Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmood Abbas. During the past few years Hamas has gone against Abbas to act aggressively against Israeli forces, the latest being the one which began this Ramadan in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. However, more than for Hamas, the ongoing conflict is a political victory for Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, many political observers believe.
Before this escalation, Netanyahu looked to be on the verge of losing his job which he has held for the last 12 years. His rivals, Yair Lapid of the center-right Yesh Atid party, and Naftali Bennett of the right-wing nationalist Yamina party, were in talks to form a government to unseat Netanyahu. The United Arab List would have provided the last few seats Lapid and Bennett needed to secure a majority in the Knesset (120-member) but the fresh conflict with Hamas has spoiled those negotiations. As a result, Bennett announced that a change of government was not on the table anymore and that he had resumed negotiations with Netanyahu’s Likud party.
It is worthwhile to mention that there have been four parliamentary elections in the last two years in which neither Netanyahu nor his rivals have been able to achieve a majority coalition. The outbreak of battle with Hamas has given a new lease of life to Netanyahu. Netanyahu is currently on trial for corruption and a more secure hold on the prime ministership would make his position better in terms of seeking some form of immunity. He is also planning to bring about a change in the entire political system in order to seek a direct mandate for the prime ministership independent of the Knesset, which further reflects his desperation to stay on in power. It is quite ironic that the current escalation and the war with Hamas should benefit Netanyahu politically because in reality it reflects his failures.
Such a political game by Netanyahu to consolidate his power at the cost of war should certainly raise eyebrows around the world but so far the US and other allies of Israel have stood with Netanyahu and supported his aggression against the Palestinians. There might be a truce in the coming few days and the conflict may come to a halt but there is long road ahead to the resolution of the many conflicts plaguing this land, both within and without.
The writer is a counsellor at IGNOU and a columnist. [email protected]