COMMENT : Heightened Middle East conflict levels and Israeli elections — Mohammad Ahmad
Mr Netanyahu uses his influence with great ability over the world’s most powerful geostrategic entities
With the exception of the Israel-Lebanon war of July 2006, the analysis of the surges in conflict level in the former’s neighbourhood in the last decade would reveal that whenever it is to have an election a situation of military intervention is created. The incumbent responds to this self-created situation with a heavy hand to appear as the saviour and protector of Jewish interests and gains rightwing votes. In the run up to the 2003 elections there was Operation ‘Defensive Shield’ between March 29 and April 21, 2002 in the West Bank. Before the 2009 elections was Operation ‘Cast Lead’ between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009.It is, therefore, not very surprising to witness the current Gaza massacre by the Israeli forces in the run up to elections due in 2013.
The current Israeli prime minister is a declared hawk and the world should be on guard against giving him any room for exploitation. His views on the Palestinians are known to all. In his first term in office, from 1996 to 1999, two Mossad agents were captured in Jordan while posing as Canadian tourists after trying to kill the Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, by injecting him with poison. Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects the partition of Jerusalem entirely, the acceptance of which is mandatory for any Israeli-Palestinian agreement. He rather declared it as Israel’s “eternal capital” in his speech to a joint session of the US Congress in 1996: “There will never be such a re-division of Jerusalem. Never. We shall not allow a Berlin Wall to be erected inside Jerusalem. We will not drive out anyone, but neither shall we be driven out of any quarter, any neighbourhood, any street of our eternal capital.”
About the Palestinian Authority Mr Netanyahu in his article, “End Game” writes: “With such a regime, whose ultimate objective is our destruction...there is no place for negotiations and no hope for reaching any sustainable peace agreement...There is only one option that is now available to Israel: to decisively win the war that has been forced upon us...We must instead seek a total military victory against an implacable enemy that is waging a terrorist war against us...we must encircle the main Palestinian population centres, purge them of terrorists, and eradicate the terrorist infrastructure...finally; the claim that we have tried all military means to end the terror is baseless. We have not even used a fraction of our military power.”
With such a hawk leading Israel there should have been an effort to refrain from providing him with any room for exploitation. Knowing that any Israeli response to a military action has always been disproportionate and heavy-handed, it should be looked into by Hamas who ordered the firing of rockets at Israel when it was known that the response would be a massacre of Palestinians. Are there any moles in Hamas working for Israel’s interests to provide it the excuse to unleash its might on a defenceless people? It is very likely that the Hamas-Palestinian Authority hostility, which has divided the Palestinian cause, is also a result of the influence of Israeli moles within Hamas. That the presence of Hamas suits Israel is also obvious from the quick ceasefire that the former agreed to. It never wants the elimination of Hamas. With Hamas in power in Gaza, the Palestinian voice remains divided.
Mr Netanyahu is a shrewd man. With his eyes on the next elections and with a definite plan in mind, he fooled his opponents in May 2012 by getting the Knesset to dissolve itself. He then reversed his stated plans to hold early elections in September and instead made Mr Mofaz bring in his 28-seat party Kadima into his coalition, giving him 94 out of 120 Knesset seats and ensuring for him total legislative control. The parties, with a view to pass vote-winning laws before September, gave approvals to tax exemptions to organisations, which encouraged settlement activity. Knowing that settlement activity is at the heart of the Palestinian problem, the rightwing prime minister who is an advocate of settlements thus succeeded in diluting the influence of the centre-right Kadima. This was the party with the most votes in the 2009 elections and whose leader, Mr Mofaz gave a plan in 2009 calling for the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state on 60 percent of the territory of the West Bank along with a promise to negotiate final borders equivalent to those before the Six-Day War of 1967. Interestingly, Mr Mofaz was willing to negotiate with Hamas, the militant group that now controls Gaza, provided the organisation was willing to come to the table with Israel. In contrast, Mr Netanyahu was never in favour of a dialogue with Hamas and was most vocal in opposition to the Oslo Accord for peace too.
Mr Netanyahu uses his influence with great ability over the world’s most powerful geostrategic entities. He keeps condemning the Iranian nuclear capability at various fora to manipulate the United States and the European Union into imposing progressively tougher sanctions on Iran. While someone with a nuclear ability is naturally a threat to any country in the vicinity, the intensity is drummed up to chant so loudly about Iran that the legitimate demand of the Palestinians for the return of the Occupied Territories is drowned and the sovereign country to which they have a birthright is never allowed to form. However, given Mr Netanyahu’s history, it is quite possible that he escalates the rhetoric towards Iran to a level where Israel takes a military action against the latter near the elections, which have to take place latest by September 2013. While in such a case, albeit Mr Netanyahu may bet on a short but all-out attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities to gain a decisive victory in the elections, the response could jeopardise his plans and world peace may be put at risk. It is imperative that Iran acts wisely and Israeli deceit does not make it do something provocative that could provide Mr Netanyahu with an excuse to undertake a highly risky adventure.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org