The Palestinians are facing a historic opportunity that they cannot miss

The prestige and morale of the IDF is falling as it stands helpless in front of a few resistance fighters in Jenin and its refugee camp, and resistance activities — legitimate under international law — continue across the occupied West Bank.

Israel has an extreme far-right government which makes no secret of its racism and neofascist tendencies.

Even US President Joe Biden has described it as the most right-wing government in the occupation state’s history, as have others.

It is stuck in a crisis of its own making with no way out, and the government’s options are narrowing.

The most important thing for the international community, it seems, is to save Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the group of criminals who are his coalition partners.

Together they govern by policies and practices that no one else in the world would accept, and yet its allies accept them in the apartheid state of Israel.

The US can no longer justify and cover up policies that lack any sense of morality.

It is even struggling to maintain its position at the top of the international system, which is collapsing due to global events.

The Israeli government is adept at creating external crises in order to divert attention from its domestic problems.

Netanyahu has tried to do this by turning his armed forces loose on the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, and latterly against Jenin, but he has failed to mitigate the crisis.

Escalating a crisis with Hezbollah in Lebanon is not an option, because he and his government no longer trust that this will lead to a solution to the domestic opposition that they face.

Every time Netanyahu goes for a partial escalation, and for a limited period, the protestors return to the streets.

Moreover, Israel’s famed deterrent factor is failing with every round of aggression launched by the so-called Israel Defence Forces.

The prestige and morale of the IDF is falling as it stands helpless in front of a few resistance fighters in Jenin and its refugee camp, and resistance activities — legitimate under international law — continue across the occupied West Bank.

Hezbollah mocked the “invincible” IDF when the movement set up a tent with a generator in the occupied Shebaa Farms area.

The Israeli troops had to stop building a fence after the government’s attempts to deal with the incident through diplomacy and mediators failed.

Netanyahu and his racist colleagues saw their popularity ratings boosted by their terrorism and crimes against humanity.

This popularity faded away when the intensity of the state terrorism diminished.

Now the domestic crisis in Israel has taken on dangerous aspects that threaten the outbreak of a civil war given that the so-called “judicial reforms” — a “coup” by any other name — have been approved in their first reading in the Knesset.

The government faces the possibility of more opposition protests with a draft law placing the Public Prosecution Office and command of the police in the hands of Justice Minister Yariv Levin.

The talk now is about the “only democracy in the Middle East” becoming a dictatorship.

The democratic values that Western countries invoke as justification to back the rogue state are fast disappearing.

What’s more, Israel is moving towards policies and programmes with goals that are independent of the interests of the US and its Western allies.

Extreme far-right minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has said that Israel is not a star on the American flag, a point that his equally extreme colleague Bezalel Smotrich has repeated; Israel is not an American state.

Netanyahu is no longer able to maintain a positive relationship with the US administration, even though President Biden declared in Bethlehem that he is a committed Zionist.

The rift between Israel and the US is getting wider. Biden still refuses to invite Netanyahu to the White House, which is not typical of him.

Instead, he invited Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who is facing a boycott of his proposed speech in Congress by certain members of the house.

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The US and Israel now have different international priorities.

For Washington, Ukraine and China top the list; the Middle East is low down and largely ignored.

Israel’s main priority is Iran and its nuclear programme.

Even this sees a disagreement between Tel Aviv and Washington, with the US prioritising diplomatic and political methods to block Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

However, Israel sees no other option but to use force, although it knows that the US does not want to go down that path.

It is likely that the Biden administration understands the opportunism behind Israeli policies, with its refusal to boycott Russia and efforts to develop relations with China.

There is also the contentious issue of the “judicial coup” in Israel, with which Netanyahu’s coalition government is eroding democracy.

This will embarrass Washington in front of its citizens whose taxes provide almost unlimited financial and military support to the occupation state and who remain dutifully silent on this under the pretext that their tax dollars help to defend democratic values.

Netanyahu accuses the US of interfering in Israel’s internal affairs over this issue, but will be worried nonetheless if it threatens to damage Washington’s support which keeps the occupation state afloat.

Lurking in the background of all of this is the fact that settlements on Palestinian land are at the heart of the Netanyahu coalition’s plans for the state of Israel, and the US has declared such building projects to be a hindrance to the “two-state solution” still being proposed for Israel and the Palestinians.

As long as international law regards all settlements and settlers as illegal, this is going to be an understated issue for Israel’s allies.

Overall, the general picture for the apartheid occupation state is getting darker day after day. Internal dissent points to the disintegration of society and state institutions, not least the military, security services and the police.

The level of violence against those who are protesting about the judicial coup has increased, suggesting that the open repression of political opposition is on the agenda.

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Internationally, Israel’s isolation is getting more obvious as its racist and neofascist nature becomes more evident.

Without falling for the illusion of a radical change in US policy, which will not happen, the current situation provides a historic opportunity that the Palestinians do not have the right to miss.

It will be the main issue discussed by the Palestinian factions at their upcoming meeting in Cairo.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Ayyam on 17 July 2023