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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict explained – Part 2

By Akin Ojumu
25 May 2021   |   3:10 am
While this was happening, the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu was reeling and Bibi, embroiled in multiple scandals and buried in litigation, was fighting for his political survival

Continued from yesterday

While this was happening, the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu was reeling and Bibi, embroiled in multiple scandals and buried in litigation, was fighting for his political survival. On the personal front, Benjamin Netanyahu was on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges. The long and protracted high-profile case has consumed the whole of Israel and has spilled over to weaken Netanyahu politically. For months after the most recent election, Bibi could not form a government.

According to Patrick Kingsley of the New York Times:
“ Mr. Netanyahu was in the middle of coalition negotiations after an election in March – the fourth in two years – that ended without a clear winner. To form a coalition, he needed to persuade several extreme-right lawmakers to join him. One was Itamar Ben Gvir, a former lawyer for Lehava who advocates expelling Arab citizens whom he considers disloyal to Israel, and who until recently hung a portrait of Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish extremist who massacred 29 Palestinians in Hebron in 1994, in his living room.”

A successful coalition between secular-centrist Yair Lapid, religious-rightist Naftali Bennet, and United Arab List, also known as Raam, headed by Mansour Abbas would have dealt a death blow to the political ambitions of Benjamin Netanyahu. If these 3 ideologically diverse groups could have succeeded in negotiating an agreement, it would have brought an end to Netanyahu politically. A unity government constituted by these strange bedfellows in Israel was going to be the final nail on Bibi’s political coffin.

Then all of a sudden, a conflict between Arabs and Jews broke out on the eve of putting pen to paper to consummate the epoch-making national unity coalition. Just at the moment, a deal of a lifetime that would have brought long-lasting peace to Israel was about to be struck – an agreement that would have ended the political career of Benjamin Netanyahu – there was an eruption of renewed murderous violence all across Israel and Palestine. As a result of the violence, the consummation of the coalition was terminated, and the peace deal died a premature death.

The timing couldn’t have been more convenient. You don’t need to be a political genius to put two and two together. It’ll take a suspension of disbelief not to make a connection between the formation of the national unity coalition, Bibi’s political peril, the current breakdown of law and order in Israel, and the resulting termination of the unity coalition.

While it is true that Benjamin Netanyahu is a master manipulator, and he’s an expert at deflecting responsibilities and distracting from his own moral failures, Netanyahu is not the sole bad actor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition to Bibi’s political machinations, we also have Hamas – who have a lot to lose if the peace deal had been successful – poisoning the well of goodwill in the region as well.

In Palestine, there is an ascendency of a cadre of restless youth. This new generation of Palestinians is disillusioned and dissatisfied with the status quo. With a keen sense of national pride and a desire for national autonomy, these young Palestinians are exasperated with the hopelessness and misery that exist in the ghettos of Gaza and the West Bank. This young Palestinians consider the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas as toothless incompetent and they think Hamas militants, led by Yahya Sinwar, are senseless rabid dogs. So, they have neither faith in the ruling Palestinian government nor trust in the trigger-happy-ready-to-chop-off-the-head-of-infidels Hamas.

Over the years, the influence and prestige that Hamas used to enjoy among the Palestinians have waned significantly and the stranglehold these terrorists had on the people of Palestine had been greatly weakened. Having lost their dominance, Hamas continue to explore opportunities to regain leverage, and they exploit the slightest clash between Israeli authorities and the Palestinians to try and reassert and reposition themselves among the people. In order to gin up the Palestinians and get them all wound up for confrontation, Hamas is quick to make a mountain out of any tiny molehill and they persistently fan into flame any perceived slight by the Israeli government.

With the national government coalition taking shape in Israel and the likelihood of an alliance that would have diminished their influence further, Hamas set out to abort the embryonic coalition in-utero. Using as a pretext the incidents at the Aqsa Mosque, the locking of the Damascus Gate, and the eviction of the six Palestinian families from their homes, Hamas reignited the conflict with Israel and they started firing rockets from Gaza Strip into Israeli neighborhoods.

While Benjamin Netanyahu and Yahya Sinwar may not be engaged in regular conclaves, periodic hobnobbing, or frequent Zoom calls, they are two sides of the same saber-rattling coin. On the surface, they seem like archenemies, but they both share one thing in common, and that is the perpetuation of war between Arabs and Jews. They both profit in chaos. As long as Jews and Palestinians are fighting, they thrive and survive politically and can keep their hold on power. In a symbiotic relationship, Bibi Netanyahu and Yahya Sinwar benefit from each other’s intractable desire for war between Arabs and Jews. The two have signed on to a pact of mutually assured destruction.

As Patrick Kingsley described it:
“Netanyahu didn’t invent the tensions between Jews and Arabs,” said Anshel Pfeffer, a political commentator and biographer of the prime minister. “They’ve been here since before Israel was founded. But over his long years in power, he’s stoked and exploited these tensions for political gain time and again and has now miserably failed as a leader to put out the fires when it boiled over.”

For Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar, a resumed conflict with the Jews is a win-win situation for his group of terrorist clowns. By firing rockets into Israel, he believes Hamas will be seen by his fellow Palestinians as their liberator and protector and thus upstage the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Thomas L. Friedman alluded to this symbiotic relationship between Netanyahu and Hamas in a New York Times opinion piece:

“For the last 12 years, Bibi has had one mission – to keep Hamas and the Palestinian Authority weak and divided so that he could come to the U.S. Congress every year and say, “Oh, gosh, I’d love to make peace, but we have no partner on the other side. The Palestinians are weak and divided.”

“And for 12 years Hamas has had one mission: to keep Netanyahu in power so Hamas and its backers in Iran could tell their naïve supporters in Europe, on liberal college campuses, in the media and in the Democratic Party that the problem is not Hamas – an Islamo-fascist organization without a shred of democratic fiber that is dedicated to destroying the Jewish state and imposing a Tehran-like Islamic regime in Palestine – but rather that terrible pro-settler Netanyahu government in Israel.”

For peace to reign in Israel and Palestine, Benjamin Netanyahu must be rendered politically impotent, and the influence of Hamas must be completely neutered. Until these belligerents are isolated and sidelined, violence will never cease in Israel and carnage will never abate in Palestine.

Ojumu, is of the US National Institutes of Health and writes on the African Plume Blog.;; E-mail: