Israeli governments– from bad to worse
The Bennett-Lapid “government of change” proved to be far worse than the one led by Netanyahu. ■ “The change in this government is that we do everything like Bibi, only better” ■ It can be clearly stated that the policy of this current government not only continues the policies set by the previous Netanyahu governments, but deepens the settlements project, the dispossession and the oppression of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
Following the establishment of Israel’s “Government of Change”:
The killing of Palestinians by the Occupation army doubled, compared to the annual average during the Netanyahu governments, and leapt by about 60% compared to the year preceding the Bennett-Lapid government — higher than any year in which Netanyahu was in power between 2009 and 2021. The highest in 16 years. This happened because the Government of Change for the Worse decided upon its establishment to relax the rules of engagement and has since refused to change its decision.
Home demolitions in the West Bank increased by 35% — and in East Jerusalem by 59% — compared to the annual average during the Netanyahu governments. Home demolitions in the Naqab/Negev increased by 26% compared to the year before the establishment of the Apartheid Government on Steroids.
The settlements were spoilt with crazy leap of 62% increase in construction commencements compared to the year before the establishment of the government of wholesale cruelty. There was a 26% increase in the planning of new settlements compared to the annual average in the Netanyahu governments and a 15% increase in the issuing of building tenders compared to the annual average in the Netanyahu governments. The budgets for the Judaisation of the Naqab/Negev and the Galilee Projects climbed steeply. The government decided to build a series of racist Jewish settlements while reducing the disappearing space that still remained for the indigenous Palestinian population in the south. The transfer [Israeli Hebrew for expulsion and removal] of whole communities and whole villages in the West Bank, in the south of Hebron Hills and in other places were accelerated and hardened. Outposts whose status that Netanyahu did not dare to formalise became legal in procedures that have set dangerous precedents.
There has been a sharp increase of 45 in pogroms and violent attacks by settlers (accompanied by the gun totters of the Occupation army, of course) compared to the year preceding the establishment of the current far-right government. The settler-dominated invasions of the al-Aqsa mosque also increased greatly, and their nature became more extreme. The government allowed MK Ben Gvir to conduct provocative visits to the compound (something that he had been prevented from doing by the Netanyahu government). On Jerusalem Day, unprecedented images of thousands of Israelis singing and dancing in the holy place were seen as if the Flags Parade had reached the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, with a record set of over 2,600 organised visitors on a single day. At the time, the police prevented Palestinians from entering al-Aqsa. These images of Jews singing and dancing while Palestinians are prevented from entering are a realisation of Palestinian fears of an Israeli takeover of the Muslim compound.
The Bennett-Lapid government allowed the holding of the flag march along the most aggressive route, which even Netanyahu did not approve, despite the high tensions that prevailed in the area, and allowed one of the largest and most violent manifestation of hate to be organised in Jerusalem. In the same spirit, the IDF began accompanying and protecting settlers in operations to remove Palestinian flags from the streets of villages in Area B. One of the most blatant attacks on Palestinian symbols and basic human dignity was the attack on the pallbearers at the funeral of the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, after she was murdered by IDF soldiers in cold blood. While the entire world expressed shock at the images from the funeral, with the exception of a tweet by Minister Issawi Frej and a commitment to a (limited) investigation by [Internal Security] Minister Barlev, not a single word of criticism or expression of basic human empathy was heard from anyone in the government.
The number of administrative detainees jumped to a 14-year high and reached 723.
The terrible government of change has outlawed Palestinian human rights organisations. The previous government, headed by Netanyahu, tried in the past to convince international donors to stop aid to these organisations, but did not dare to launch such an extreme attack and proclaim them as illegal terrorist organisations. The Bennett-Lapid government tried to explain the move to the world, but the countries of the world did not join the proclamation, and some international bodies even stated that Israel did not provide sufficient evidence for the declaration.
The terrible government of change has brutally attacked Gaza without the slightest semblance of a pretext.
Practices of collective punishment, such as the brutal siege imposed on entire neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, became more frequent and severe.
A sombre report by the Peace Now organisation “The government of unequivocal annexation: One year of the Bennett-Lapid Government” (upon which I also based a large part of the data and descriptions that appeared above) state, among other things, that “ Beyond that, those who support the settlement project in the government have been defended and legitimised by the Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who used his image as a moderate to explain and justify this policy of intensified annexation when faced with international critique… it can be clearly stated that the policy of this current government not only continues the policies set by the previous Netanyahu governments, but deepens the settlements project, the dispossession and the oppression of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. This government furthers a policy of expansion and further building in the settlements and their infrastructure for Israeli settlers on the one hand, and a policy of preventing planning and building permits, house demolitions and restrictions infringing upon freedoms of Palestinians on the other hand. This process leads to annexation de facto and creating a binational apartheid state. This process has been accelerated without any discussion or disagreement within the coalition.
These things were done almost without any discussion within the coalition. The parties that, according to their statements, support a two-state solution, did not express any interest in the issues of settlement and control of the territories, did not set demands, did not express opposition, and did not even protest against destructive moves made by the government.
In an in-depth survey released a few days ago conducted by the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation [at Tel Aviv University], it was found that among Arab citizens, the assessment of the performance of the Bennett-Lapid government towards the Arab community inside the Green Line is very low — especially in the economic area, in the area of personal security, and in the field of planning and construction problems. 40.9% of the survey participants believe that the condition of Arab community following the tenure of the Bennet-Lapid government is worse than before, and 44% believe that the situation remains unchanged. Only 13% believe that there has been an improvement in the situation of the Arab population.
The go-getters of the ultra-neoliberal Kohelet Forum have secured influential positions. Weaker segments of the community suffered increased fiscal pain, these are the segments that largely overlap with the identities that are discriminated on an ethnic basis. The Ministry of Health’s report on the case of the Yemenite children during the Mapai years [early days of the state] was shelved
Public housing and left-wing activist Riki Kohan Benlulu wrote recently:
“I’m just saying that if Netanyahu and his government had hit public housing the way they hit it this year, the Internet would have fainted, but for some reason there was silence, shush, hush, and the most intense anger is for the lies. If they were telling the truth with all the difficulty, we would have risen up, but shush, hush, public housing tenants are trampled… The appeal option to the exemptions committee has been closed. And the eligibility criteria for public housing have been tightened. They changed the classification to hundreds of apartments and transferred them to who knows who in religious groups or whoever, evictions of families to the street, and much more, a budget they didn’t bring etc, etc… and the biggest bribes were allocated for the rural area and the kibbutzim.”
The left’s almost sweeping disregard for the most troubling and difficult reality is very worrying and produces and serves severe distortions in the media discourse in general and the discourse of the left in particular, which must change in order to have (really) realistic talk about the situation and the horizons of political change.
What is no less dangerous is the way in which such a government, in which the “Left” is (supposedly) a partner, produces further movement of the public discourse to the Right, and the legitimisation of support for Apartheid throughout the world. A government led by the Right which is proclaimed as “Centre-Left” and carries out the most right-wing policies without constraints and without significant opposition, moves the Right to the “Centre” and pushes the right to further move the boundaries of the discourse to the extremes in order to preserve the electoral conventions.
A coalition based on image with adjuncts from the “Left” allows the Zionist establishment to curb welcome trends in the development of the international boycott movement. When the most important human rights organisations in the world recognise that there is Apartheid, the Arab representative in the government is brought forward to assert that it is not true at all (not even in the [Occupied] Territories, where only “sometimes wrong things happen”) while the government only deepens Apartheid on the ground. Meretz, parts of which (justly) declared the Nation State Law as an Apartheid law and the Occupation of the West Bank as Apartheid, sits in a government that is the Nation-State Law and Occupation government on steroids, and at most sends an odd letter or two to the deputy defence minister.
All this horror is denied out of the inertia of the “pragmatic strategy” that brought this disaster upon us (mainly upon the Palestinians of course) with its own hands. The denial on the left is twofold: both of the very fact that this is the reality and this is what is indeed happening, but also of the fact that this is not some accidental happenstance but a clear result of the failed political strategy that abandoned the red lines for the sake of this disastrous “influence” that those who choose to renounce support for the establishment of an independent alliance for the state of all its citizens — which is the only true strategy against the foreboding perils of the future — and prefer to play within the rules of the dangerous equation into which the Zionist steamrollers are forcing on the Left. This process is increasingly reflected in the actions and discourse of the Joint List, and culminated in the recommendations of Gantz for the prime ministership (who took the recommendation and went with it to the Netanyahu government) and for Lapid and the support from “outside” and the saving of this government of madness repeatedly in the no-confidence votes in the Knesset.
What started with being dragged to be used as a spare wheel in the Zionist Game of Thrones whose enslavement decrees an accelerated rightward move of the entire political arena, continued and transformed into the Hunger Games.
Balad the only party that insists on the establishment of a state for all its citizens and that dares to critically examine the failed strategy to which the joint list has drifted and oppose the saga of recommendations and support for that damned and “long-awaited” change that brought us the most malicious and right-wing government in Israel’s history (both Naftali Bennett and Mossi Raz, both of whom were members of this government from both sides of it, explicitly said that it was the most right-wing government in history, and the Government’s Secretary Shalom Shlomo used to joke and say that “the change in this government is that we do everything like Bibi, only better”) — was removed from the joint list in a dirty deal exercise. The party is now faced with an attempted political liquidation that “ugly” is a real beauty compared to it.
So I will vote for Balad and the state of all its citizens with both my heart and mind being as totally contented with my decision as can be. And yes Balad does a have a prospect of crossing the electoral threshold, but this is really not the be-all and end-all. And if it were not for Balad which is keeping this remaining ember glowing compared to the “Left”, I would not vote in the elections.