Despite getting entangled in corruption scandals and being under investigation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still won the election this month and secured a record fifth term in office.
A week after Netanyahu had seen off the intense and close race at the ballot box, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on April 17 officially invited “Bibi” and his Likud Party to form the next coalition government with other right-wing factions.
Under the leadership of Netanyahu, Israel is likely to continue unabated with its nationalist policy approach. And the PM is also likely to deliver on his election pledges of officially annexing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
In other words, the situation for the Palestinians is likely to get tougher and tougher in the days ahead, and their bid for statehood is likely to remain a dream too far.
In our opinion, Netanyahu’s successful re-election can be attributed to several factors, namely a booming economy, Israel’s huge military advantage over its neighbors, and the fact that US President Donald Trump has been eagerly throwing his weight behind the Jewish state ever since he took office.
In December 2017, the United States formally recognized Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel.
Then in March this year, Trump took another major step further by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
This, even though the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334 in December 2016 “condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967,…in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions.”
As long as there is Washington’s backing, the annexation of the West Bank would be a slam dunk for Netanyahu.
Theoretically speaking, Palestine is a brother of the Arab world. So why didn’t other Arab countries in the Middle East speak up for the Palestinians?
The answer perhaps lies in the fact that Israel has done a brilliant job in capitalizing on the divisions and rivalries among the Arab world, not to mention that the US has been pulling the strings behind the scene.
For example, as a leading Arab state, Saudi Arabia is supposed to be Israel’s nemesis.
In reality, however, the Saudis have remained pretty nice to the Israelis in recent years, partly because they are both US allies, but mainly because they have a common enemy, i.e. Iran.
That explains why there is talk that the Israeli intelligence, the Mossad, has been working closely yet secretly with its Saudi counterparts in their joint attempt to sabotage Tehran’s nuclear program.
As Netanyahu continues to throw his weight around in the Middle East with unwavering US support, the “peace process” between Israel and Palestine, meanwhile, exists only on paper.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 16
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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