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Israel: The rise of fascist government and the Palestine issue

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Palestinians are concerned about what will happen now that Benjamin Netanyahu has been sworn in as the new prime minister of Israel, establishing the most far-right, religiously conservative administration in the nation’s history.

2022 was already the bloodiest year for Palestinians since 2006 due to Israel’s almost daily military raids and its three-day bombing of the Gaza Strip in August.

Netanyahu: A fascist?

Since Netanyahu, the founder of modern fascism in Israel, with his ultra-nationalist and ultra-orthodox allies sworn into office, the Palestinians have become conscious of their fate. Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, now the security and finance ministers were members of the Kahana movement, which both the US and Israel regarded as terrorist organisation.

 The Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose fanaticism prevented him from serving in the Israeli army, is now the security minister of Israel. Days after coming to office he visited  Al-Aqsa Mosque which showed his willingness to incite a religious conflict, and Al-Aqsa may serve as a spark for such a firestorm.

Like his predecessor Aerial Sharon, He considers Al Aqsa mosque the ultimate nationalist cause and advocated for Jews to be allowed to pray in Muslim holy places throughout the election campaign.

Ben-Gvir appears to be following the strategy of Ariel Sharon by establishing Jewish ownership of the holy site and solidifying the reality of total Jewish domination. Giving Jewish worship priority would involve doing what is already done in Hebron at the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The shrinking Jewish population in Israel

A big worry for the right-wing fascist government is the shrinking Jewish population in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It represents a dilemma for the nation’s so-called democracy as in a true democracy, no one is excluded on the basis of race or ethnicity.

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel is home to over 9.7 million people, with a majority of Jews (about 74%) and Arabs (21%). Since 2009, when it stood at 80%, the Jewish population share has been steadily decreasing, while the Arab percentage somewhat grew.

The falling majority of Jews in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the  Gaza Strip, where the Jewish majority “falls to barley half,” poses a major concern for right-wing extremists. (The Economist). Population parity has long been a core issue in Israeli politics. Owing to this fact Israel’s identity as a “Jewish state” would be in jeopardy if Palestinians are able to obtain the majority and the ability to vote.

What is the Israeli Government’s strategy?

The two-state solution has been suggested as the sole way to resolve this issue, but a far-right government in Israel would find it intolerable.

The expansion of settlements in the West Bank has been the new government’s top objective in Israel, and statements like “the Jewish people have an exclusive right over all the land” between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea have only served to reinforce that. This government’s main objective, which is widely stated, is to forcibly remove Palestinians from their homes.

Smotrich stated before the parliament that Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, ought to have “completed the job” in 1948 by expelling all Arabs. Tensions could be stoked by trigger-happy police killings of innocent people, settlement growth, home demolitions, and the construction of a cable car route through occupied East Jerusalem to transport Jewish tourists to Al-Aqsa. All these signs lead us to anticipate that Palestinians will continue to be targeted and that more Palestinian territories will be taken.

Secular Israelis are also the victims

The left-wing and secular Israelis are also becoming the victims of the fascist regime. They are falling victim to the Deportation Law, which seeks to discredit secular Jews who oppose these draconian policies. They are referred to as traitors who are “disloyal to the state of Israel” and should be sent back to Europe.

Smotrich has pushed for the repeal of Israel’s Law of Return’s “grandchild clause,” which permits third-generation Jews to immigrate to Israel. He justifies his actions by claiming that 70% of immigrants from former Soviet Union nations were not Jews, characterizing them as a “Jewish time bomb that must be dealt with” and a serious threat to the nation’s Jewish majority.

Antisemitism is a European issue, not an Arab one. Zionism is a European phenomenon rather than an Eastern one, and it offers a solution to the issue of Jews in Europe [after the Holocaust]. But the Europeans also produced what is now known as the “Palestinian problem” with the foundation of Israel. Ironically, the ruling Kahanists want to export this problem to Europe.

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The author is an undergraduate student of IR from National Defence University, Islamabad.

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