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Why Extremist Jews in Israel Want The Temple Mount

Exclusive interview with a leading expert on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and Jewish supremacy

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Temple Mount & Jewish Supremacy

Hundreds of ultra-right Jewish nationalists brandishing Israeli flags and shouting “Death to Arabs”, “Another Nakba”, “Let your village burn down” and other obnoxious slogans stormed the Haram-al-Sharif (Temple Mount) compound in East Jerusalem in a show of Jewish supremacy.

It marked the beginning of the national Israel Day parade – a celebration of Israel’s victory of the six day war in 1967. Israeli forces occupied the rooftop of the prayer hall, and fired rubber bullets at Palestinian worshippers to disperse them and make way for the passage of Israelis streaming through.  

After Israel’s victory in 1967 and its capture of East Jerusalem, which caused the displacement of about 80% of Palestinians, it handed back the custodianship of the Temple Mount to Jordan, and thus arrived the internationally recognised ‘status quo’. Jews may visit the compound but due to their religious belief that the site was too sacred under Jewish law to have any Jew pray there, only Muslims could pray within the compound. Last week saw yet another violation of this internationally recognised agreement as radicalised nationalist sentiment within Israel increases.

Jewish Supremacy

We spoke to Mouin Rabbani, a leading Middle East analyst and expert on the Israel-Palestinian conflict about the origins of the contention over the rights to the Temple Mount.

Screenshot 2022 06 09 at 07.59.12

He explained: “During the 1980s, radical extremist groups, including militias, began fairly regular attempts to blow up Al-Aqsa Mosque, and then in 1990 there was an invasion of the Haram-e-Sharif by the Israeli police and military which resulted in 20 or 21 dead.”

One of the most notorious Zionist Jews in history was mass murderer Baruch Goldstein, who walked into the Ibraheemi Mosque of Hebron in Ramadhan and shot dead 29 Palestinian worshippers, injuring 125. 

A shrine was built honouring Goldstein after his death and it became a pilgrimage site for many Jews who aligned with his mindset of a Jewish Supremacist state; the epithet on his tombstone today still reads that Goldstein was a martyr with a clean heart who “gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land.”

The predominantly Arab neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah, was the site of forced evictions by the Israeli state last year. The overwhelming support among Israelis  for the events in Sheikh Jarrah was an alarming but normal indicator of the increasing militarisation of Israeli society as a whole. 

Rabbani says this kind of Jewish supremacy is “nothing new” and “Israel has often been described as, not least by Israeli political scientists and commentators, an army with a state as opposed to a normal country where a state has an army. The security establishment is thoroughly dominant in Israeli politics and society in ways that have few contemporary parallels.”

Temple Mount, Zionism & Jewish Supremacy

So what exactly is the issue over the right to the Temple Mount?

Rabbani explains.

Temple Mount and Jewish Supremacy

“Zionism as it emerged in the late 19th century… was a preponderantly secular movement that made use of religious imagery and religious symbolism when it suited it, to rationalise and justify its position. Zionism is often characterised and rightly so as Jewish nationalism, but it is Jewish in the ethnic sense, not the religious sense. 

What you have is these groups who are increasingly powerful and influential within the Israeli state. For them, the ultimate prize is full, exclusive hegemonic dominance over the Haram-e-Sharif, ultimately tearing down the  Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock and replacing them with a Jewish temple.”

The racist, ethnic centred slurs of the scores of Jewish-Israeli youths and their acts of aggression towards Palestinians within the Haram-e-Sharif compound are a telling show of Jewish supremacy.

And such a mindset is loudly echoed in Israel’s recent efforts to ban the Palestinian flag from University campuses and other state funded institutions in Israel. 

Does Israel Want Peace?

“Well, peace is not an agenda. Sure, you say if I managed to get you to capitulate and fully eradicate your rights and you stop fighting back then we’ve achieved peace. What is really going on is Israel is seeking to establish its uncontested domination and hegemony over the land and the people. The maxim that is often used in this respect is – maximum land and minimum Arabs.”

“And the fact that Palestinians have such corrupt and incompetent leadership and really don’t have the organisation and wherewithal to contest these Israeli acts of aggression, there isn’t organised resistance, certainly can’t be mistaken for peace.” 

Hamas

But how about Hamas attacks on Israel?

“Well, you know, Israel is a nuclear power and the only nuclear power in the Middle East. It has the most powerful army in the region. Ariel Sharon used to brag that the Israeli army could conquer Algiers, Baghdad and all territory between in the space of a week. You can choose to believe that or not but the fact that he said, I think says something. Israel has not only the most sophisticated armaments in the region at its disposal but has the full, unconditional and uncritical backing and support of the most powerful state that has existed in history, namely the United States, and it also enjoys what I call the active acquiescence of the European Union and its member states. That is pretty hard to beat. “

“Hamas by contrast, you know if we talk about the same collection of states, is effectively a delegitimised pariah, with very few military means at its disposal. The one territory it does control, the Gaza strip, has been under international and particularly Israeli- Egyptian blockade since 2006. Has it managed to substantially improve its military capacity? Yes very much so. But are these in any way a match for Israel’s military capabilities? Absolutely not. I mean it’s the contest between a goldfish and a great white shark.”

Israel got away with it

Shireen Abu Akleh

To demonstrate the utter neglect for Palestinians, the murder of Palestinian journalist and American citizen Shireen Abu-Akleh is summed up by Rabbani“Israel got away with it.”

“That’s the hard and bitter truth. It is definitively confirmed that she was shot dead by a trained Israeli sniper. Snipers don’t usually make up their own minds and act independently in these situations. They follow the orders and authorisation of their commanding officers. And there is growing evidence, some would say also conclusive, that she was deliberately targeted, not only as a journalist but her individually. And she was also a US citizen. The normal procedure in such cases when an American citizen is murdered abroad in this kind of situation is that the U.S government and particularly the FBI launches an independent investigation to get to the bottom of things and then ensures that the perpetrators are brought to justice in the U.S court. 

Shireen Abu Akleh was summarily executed by the Israeli military. Judging by the international response thus far which I don’t expect to change, Israel will enjoy continued impunity and lack of accountability and as a result Israel will feel itself free to murder additional journalists and there has been one more case at least since then.”

How can peace be achieved?

“The international consensus calls upon Israel to fully withdraw from all occupied territory including the West Bank, the Gaza strip and the Syrian Golan heights. 

Another formula would be a secular democratic or bi-national arrangement in which all those who either reside within the territory of what was formally mandatory Palestine, including those who were ethnically cleansed from that territory in 1948 and to a lesser extent after 1967 would enjoy either equal individual rights or a combination of equal individual and communal rights, and ultimately of course that is the preferred outcome for anybody who believes in justice and equality. 

It would take many decades to achieve a one state solution. In fact there already is a one-state, now and to transform that would require massive efforts and entail truly horrific levels of suffering, not least because the west, Europe and the United States are thoroughly committed to the perpetuation of Israel as a Jewish state. 

Peace cannot be achieved by bilateral negotiations and agreement the way that you can resolve the outstanding issues of Brexit between London and Brussels. You’re here talking about a colonial reality, where to put it simply, Israel is too powerful and the Palestinians too weak to reach a just, comprehensive and durable resolution of the Question of Palestine.”

“Israel don’t even intend to negotiate with the Palestinians, they are, again, committed to this regime of Jewish Supremacy, not only its perpetuation but its expansion. 

On the Palestinian side you have a leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who is wholly committed to a negotiated two-state solution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict but is essentially completely powerless, completely illegitimate in the eyes of his own people.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Israel

Why Jews can’t pray at the Temple Mount

The Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem has seen storms of ultra-nationalist Jews attempting to gain authority over it, but why is it so contentious?

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Are Muslims to blame the ban on hews to worship in the Al Aqsa Mosque?

Standing within a 35 acre compound called the Al Haram Al Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) by Muslims, and the Temple Mount by Jews, Al Aqsa Mosque has seen storms of ultra-nationalist Jews attempting to gain authority over it. Their claim is that there is a curtailment of religious freedom at the holy site. where once stood two temples, one destroyed by Babylonians in 586 BCE, and the other by Romans in 70 CE. 

The site holds historical significance for Muslims, Jews, and Christians, but has for years been a point of contention in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Since the end of the Six Day War in 1967, which cemented a historical Status Quo, allowing Jews and Christians to visit the compound but reserving prayer there only for Muslims, Zionist groups have rallied to seek control over it. 

It’s this which Dr Jordan Peterson, in his latest video, draws attention to. In enthralling language, the conservative self-help guru relates to his upward of five million followers a story of victimhood against an oppressive, almighty force. But what exactly is he saying?

Peterson refers to his visit to the compound, where he was spotted amongst a congregation of Jewish worshippers on the first day of Sukkot, a Jewish holy festival (he says he was there for an upcoming documentary). 

Describing himself as an “uncraven slave”, he claims he felt “a spirit of compulsion and force at work there at Al Aqsa”, which he endeavoured to resist. He describes Islam as an “unnecessary tyranny”, which bars Jews and Christians from worshipping at the Al Aqsa complex. He doesn’t stop there. He also raises an objection against gender segregation at the mosque. 

Let’s take his first claim. Are Jews and Christians not allowed to pray at this site?

In short, no. But it isn’t Muslims who prohibit it. For Jews, the compound is the place of the Holy of Holies, an innermost sacred spot where once stood the ancient Temple of Jerusalem. 

Jewish law prohibits treading on this holy point as only those who have attained ritual purity should access it, but no one can and for those that do, punishment can be death. The entry of Jews inside the Temple Mount itself is forbidden under religious law since the location of the sacred area has never been confirmed. Some claim walking on some areas of the compound is permissible if purity laws are followed. But the act of worship itself contradicts Jewish custom. 

For centuries, Muslims, Jews and Christians have clashed over the site. But in 1757, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Osman III sought to bring an end to factional Christian groups over another building in the Old City, the Church of the Sepulchre. The Status Quo, as it was known, also reaffirmed a ban on non-Muslims worshipping there, but allowed Jewish worship in another part of the compound, the Western Wall. They still do.

And Orthodox Jews don’t contest this. In 1921, the Chief Rabbinate himself banned Jews from the site. 

The Status Quo was internationally recognised in the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, and various other treaties over the years have legitimised it. Israel itself has accepted it. After its occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, an arrangement was made between the Islamic Waqf, an Islamic trust controlled by Jordanian government, and the Israeli government that the former would retain control over the compound, and Israel would control its external security. This agreement maintained the ban on non-Muslim worship. 

But why did they agree? Because internationally East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory. That, and the fear of opposition from the Middle East. 

Whilst generally Israeli governments have always maintained the Status Quo, attempts to breach it have been many. Notably, by former Israeli Opposition Leader, Ariel Sharon in 2000, and Yehuda Glick, head of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, which is one of the groups intent on replacing the Muslim holy sites in the Noble Sanctuary with a Third Temple. They receive funding by the Israeli government as well as foreign-based groups. 

And as far right-wing nationalism tightens its grip, the Israeli government has also sought to deviate from the Status Quo. Former prime minister Naftali Bennett made a statement in July 2021, that Israel would preserve the freedom for Jews to worship at the Temple Mount (although he later withdrew this remark).

Israeli forces routinely impede on the rights of Muslims worshippers at the mosque. 

No one has found the exact location of the Holy of Holies, although the nationalist Temple Movement claims it can. But the real reason, some say, is political: an encroachment on Palestinian land and an expulsion of its people, which Orthodox Jews do not condone. 

Peterson blames Muslims. But his assertion evades one telling truth: Islam does not ban non-Muslim worship at any mosque, not lest the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Prophet Muhammad permitted Christians to pray at one in Medinah, which is Islam’s second holiest city. The only act that is forbidden is idolatry. 

But what else does Peterson go on to say? 

He also points to gender segregation at Al Aqsa Mosque. Although what he suggests is a unique Islamic custom has long been practised in many other religions. Ultra Orthodox Judaism still does, and this is witnessed in the very premises of the Temple Mount. Former Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu scrapped plans in 2017 that would have seen the intermixing of men and women at the Western Wall, which is  a plaza within the compound where Jews are allowed to pray. The deal, which was being negotiated between Conservative Jews and the West over a four-year period, would have ended this traditional Jewish custom at the wall, but pressure from Ultra-Orthodox Jews forced it to collapse. 

Peterson’s words are an enchanting lure to those who might already be prejudiced. He pedals his Islamophobia with untruths wrapped in elaborate language. But digging deeper reveals only manipulation and unfounded terror. 


 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

Israel-Palestine: “Racist” law dropped by Israel

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israel palestine flags

A new law, described as “racist measures” by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, which required foreigners to declare any romantic relationship with a Palestinian, has been removed after pressure from the United States and European diplomats.

The PM has asked the US and European Union to continue to apply diplomatic pressure for further changes to be made.

If the law had been passed, foreign passport holders occupied in the West Bank were going to be required to report their romantic relationships with a Palestinian to the Israeli defence ministry.

The Israeli defence ministry released these rules and restrictions for any foreigners wanting to enter Palestinian areas of the West Bank. This measure was, no doubt, going to serve as an extension towards Israel’s control of daily life and movement in and out of the occupied territory.

The West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip are considered occupied territories as Israel captured these regions in the 1967 Six-Day War of the Mideast.

A requirement was included in the initial draft of the ordinance that if a foreigner began a serious romantic relationship with a local Palestinian, then the Israeli military must be informed within thirty days of the “start of the relationship,” which meant either an engagement, wedding, or moving in together.

Once married, they were obliged to leave after twenty-seven months for a cooling-off period of a least half a year.

COGAT – Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories – the Israeli body in charge of Palestinian civilian affairs, stepped back from numerous of these controversial restrictions.

This wide-ranged policy imposed these rules on foreigners who married Palestinians or visited the West Bank to work, teach, study, or volunteer. It is important to note that these rules did not apply to people visiting Israel or the more than 130 Jewish settlements scattered across the West Bank.

The previous rules also imposed limits on the number of foreign students and teachers that were allowed to work or study in the West Bank.

This new law was going to affect thousands of foreign spouses, businesspeople, academics, volunteers, and Palestinians living in the diaspora.

Jessica Montell, the director of HaMoked, an Israeli human rights organisation that had planned to prevent the rules from taking effect, had stated towards the initial draft that “this is blatant discrimination.”

A new level of panic had ensued as people were seeing a codifying of something that should not have been there in the first place.

HaMoked submitted a petition to the Israeli High Court to cancel the regulations.

Currently, COGAT and security affairs have modified some of these restrictions, which includes the removal of having to declare a romantic relationship with a Palestinian, and the quota of students and international lecturers that can visit Palestinian institutions.

All these regulations are set to be implemented on October 20th.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

“Who am I really defending here?” – Ex-Israeli soldiers speak out

Former Israeli soldiers have spoken out about their experiences with the Israeli Defence Force (IDF)

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IDF Soldiers Near Israel Syria Border

Despite the Israeli occupation of Palestine being seventy-four years old, having started in 1948 with the first Nakba, meaning catastrophe and referring to the mass displacement of at least 750,000 Palestinians, many Israelis are learning about the actual occupation just now. A former Israeli Soldier from the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), Joel Carmel, talks about his experience whilst working for the IDF, a job which every Israeli is obliged to do after the age of eighteen. Men have to serve the IDF for at least thirty-two months and women at least twenty-four months. The only people exempt of this obligation are Israeli Arabs or people unable to due to mental or medical reasons.

Carmel, who was born and raised in London and then moved to Israel to serve the Israeli army, talks about his experience whilst working in COGAT, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Obligations of COGAT include paperwork such as coordinating access to and from the Gaza Strip as well as facilitating international activities and facilitating requests of the Gazan people with regard to Israel in terms of civilian or humanitarian matters.

Some people believe that COGAT is directly involved in the oppression of Palestinians.

Carmel, who first served in the Israeli-Palestinian military coordination office and then in the West Bank, is now part of the organization “Breaking the Silence” alongside many other previous IDF soldiers. Breaking the Silence is an organisation which consists of previous IDF soldiers aiming to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. The organisation has collected and published testimonies by previous IDF soldiers, giving them the opportunity to share their experience and show the general public the reality of Palestinians. It aims to end the occupation.

Looking back Carmel has told that in training “We were told that everything we were doing for the Palestinians was generous, a favour. We didn’t question the bigger picture, like why there are no decent hospitals in the territories, so people have to travel.” He also added: “The army raids your house at 2am and then at 8am you still have to get in line for hours for a permit for the most basic administrative stuff. I think that’s something a lot of Israelis don’t realise.”

Other previous shared similar tragic experiences as IDF soldiers.

A previous soldier, who was employed in the Nablus area said: “I did things I could never bear emotionally today. Entering someone’s house and turning their closet inside out? No way.”

“At a certain point we understood it was a pattern: you would leave a house and the house is gone – after two or three houses you figure out that there’s a pattern. The D9 comes and flattens it,” a previous Sergeant employed in the West Bank in the Deir Al-Balah area admitted. The D9 is a Dozer used by the IDF as a front-line vehicle for anti-terrorism operations.

Another soldier from Hebron admitted about questioning their job: “I think it was the beginning of the crack. I came here to defend my country and then you say to yourself, but this is my country? Is this what my country looks like? Is this how people behave in my country? Who am I really defending here?”

“The level of power and control we have was astonishing,” a twenty-five-year-old man employed near the Beit El settlement admitted.

“I found out we were responsible for approving weapons permits for the Palestinian security forces, which is one of those details you don’t really think about until the stack of paperwork is front of you. It’s little realisations like that, every day, that makes the scale of the occupation really dawn on you.”

“We also had access to so much information. Sometimes I was bored, so I’d type in random Palestinian ID numbers and see what came up. I could see everything about their lives: families, travel details, sometimes employers.”

Many testimonies include themes of death, destruction and demolitions of houses, restrictions of movement, abuse and more.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Geopolitics

No Justice in Sight for Assassinated Palestinian American Reporter, Shireen Abu Akleh

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Protesters carring photos of Shireen Abu Akleh Lod may 22

In May, renowned Palestinian American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered in a targeted assassination by the Israeli military. People around the world mourned her death and called for justice against the atrocity committed by Israel. However, months later, there has been no justice awarded to the family of Abu Akleh. In fact, the US, who should have been actively investigating the death of an American citizen, have white-washed the entire incident and stated the shooting was probably unintentional. 

All independent investigations led by either Palestinians or human rights groups, concluded that the Israeli military was responsible for the targeted assassination. Furthermore, the units sent into Jenin were not regular infantry or even marines, they were special unit forces. Those special forces are known to some as “assassination units” according Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, Marian Bishara.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden visited the Middle East, including Israel and the occupied West Bank. As most suspected, the visit did nothing to help aid the Palestinians, killing any hope that Biden would reverse at least a few of the drastic changes made by Trump to US foreign policy in regards to Israel occupied Palestine.  Some have gone to the extent of saying that Biden’s administration is sustaining the status quo of apartheid. 

In advance of his visit to the Middle East, Shireen’s family requested to sit down and discuss with President Biden on ensuring accountability for Shireen’s murderer. The request was rebuffed, and as with all killings of Palestinians, Biden’s administration has seemed to  quickly sweep the assassination under the rug. 

One might ask why it is necessary for the US government to intervene and speak to the assassination of a palestian journalist by Israeli forces, but the answer is quite simple. Not only was the journalist an American citizen, but the weapon used to kill her was paid for by US taxpayers.

Nearly $3.8 Billion of American money goes to Israel in the form of aid and military weapons, which the Israeli government will gladly use to demolish more Palestinian homes and kill Palestinian civilians without impunity.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

3 Hezbollah Drones Shot down by Israel

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Levant Basin
  • The Israeli military says one drone was shot down by an F16 fighter jet and the other two by Barak 8 missiles via ship.
  • The drones were unarmed.
  • In an official statement Hezbollah confirms ownership of the drones which were heading for the Karish gas field in disputed territory off the Mediterranean coast of Israel.
  • Israel previously announced plans to extract gas from the offshore rig, eliciting threats from Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah.
  • The disputed territory amplified tensions between Israel and Lebanon.
  • Benny Gantz, Israeli Defense Minister, accuses Hezbollah of barring Lebanon from cooperating with Israel concerning maritime borders.
  • This incident evoked support for Hezbollah, many taking to social media platforms to express gratitude for the militant group’s brazen confrontation against Israel’s platform in the Mediterranean. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Israel

Israel’s Collapsing Government and Election Cycles

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PikiWiki Israel 7260 Knesset Room

The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, is set to dissolve next year, with Yair Lapid to become the caretaker Prime Minister. With a shared goal to oust the allegedly corrupt Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, eight political parties formed the most diverse coalition in Israeli history over a year ago.

With the Knesset set to dissolve, another round of elections will be held in the fall. These will be the fifth elections held in less than four years and has supporters of Netanyahu celebrating. Despite an ongoing corruption trial, Netanyahu could be back in power by the end of this year. 

According to Yohanan Plesner, a former member of the Knesset, Lapid could automatically become Prime Minister until a new government is formed, if the Knesset does indeed dissolve. However, if the election results are inconclusive, then Lapid would continue as Prime Minister until the next election.

 For Netanyahu to return to power, he would require at least 61 votes from current Knesset members. Many polls suggest Netanyahu’s Likud party will be the largest in the next Parliament, but they would not have enough allies to assemble a true parliamentary majority. This could lead to months of coalition negotiations.

If the Knesset dissolves, the new government elections will need to take place within three to five months. Since 1996, Israel has had elections, on average, every 2.6 years. Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute,  stated “This ongoing crisis will not come to an end until Israel’s leaders put their political differences aside and enact long over-due electoral and constitutional reforms, such as making any attempt to initiate early elections dependent on a two-thirds majority in parliament and amending the current law that demands new elections when a budget fails to pass.”

The coalition of eight political parties has had a tough time uniting on voting decisions. Ideological differences and pressure from Netanyahu’s right wing alliance has already caused two members of the coalition to defect, which removed the coalition’s majority in Parliament. Many left wing and Arab members rebelled on key votes, making it impossible for the coalition to govern. Then finally last week, the government was unable to find enough votes to extend a two-tier legal system in the West Bank. This two tier system has differentiated between Israeli settlers and native Palestinians since 1967. 

Some Palestinian lawmakers were also rejoicing at the government’s collapse. An opposition lawmaker in the minority government, Aida Touma-Sulieman, shared her views saying “This government implemented a radical far-right policy of expanding settlements, destroying houses, and carrying out ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories. It threw crumbs to the Arabs in exchange for conceding fundamental political principles.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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