The Israeli election is a purely internal affair, regardless of its outcomes. Whatever government the Israeli voter chooses, the world will deal with it, no matter what reservations some may have about it at the regional and international levels—or even at the domestic level, with some Israeli parties believing the government will have negative implications for Israel’s position at home and abroad.
When it comes to the new government, what matters to us is its policy on two main issues, namely the Palestinian cause, the central issue of Arabs, and the future of Arab-Israeli relations; otherwise, there are other less significant issues, including US-Israeli relations and Israel’s stance on Iran.
I have no doubt that, upon taking office, Netanyahu will support the Abraham Accords, which were signed during his previous tenure as prime minister. He may even try to broaden and deepen Israel’s relations with Arab countries. His hardline coalition partners will have no objections to this approach, considering it will be in the interest of Israel.
As regards the Palestinian cause, things seem quite clear. The new government will not differ from its predecessors in terms of adopting the same extreme measures implemented in East Jerusalem and the West Bank which support settlements and reject the establishment of a Palestinian state. In other words, there will be no fundamental difference between the approaches adopted by Netanyahu, Ben-Gvir, Smotrich, Gantz, Yair Lapid, Lieberman, Kochavi, and any of the ministers of the right-wing and religious parties. They all share a single principle: rejecting the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Based on the recent developments, I am sending seven urgent messages to the Israeli government before it takes office and I hope Israeli leaders will take note.
1- Sooner or later, the Palestinian state will inevitably be established; so, the price Israel will pay now is much less than the price it will pay if the status quo continues. Eventually, Israel will have to recognize the Palestinian state. This will be the verdict of history.
2- The Palestinian people will continue their struggle and resistance, capitalizing on all the tools at their disposal. They will never give up, no matter how violent the Israeli countermeasures are, particularly since the new Palestinian generations have become more powerful and enthusiastic and no longer think about what they can lose.
3- The violence practiced currently against Palestinians and the magnitude of the Israeli losses that are increasing day after day will not cease. Data published by Israeli sources speaks volumes about that. Furthermore, the current data indicates that the third intifada has become a matter of time and that Israel is pushing for it.
4- The policies that Smotrich and Ben-Gvir intend to pursue on the Palestinian territories will exacerbate the situation and inevitably blow it up, unless Netanyahu tries to curb the extremist voices and save his government from collapsing, which remains precarious.
5- The only factor that can change the current equation of violence is to launch negotiations. Here, I call on Israel to clearly put forward its vision of a political settlement, whatever its nature, and let us use this vision, along with the Arab visions of peace, as a basis for these negotiations towards reaching acceptable compromises.
6- Israel’s normalization agreements with Arab countries will not, no matter how they will be strengthened, be enough to protect Israel’s national security, nor bring operations in Jerusalem and the West Bank to a halt, causing Israel to fail in reaping the benefits of normalization.
7- The moderate Palestinian leadership under President Abu Mazen is still able to control the situation in the West Bank, but if this escalation continues and Israel continues its extremist policies, the current Palestinian leadership may be replaced with another, and certainly the alternative will not be in Israel’s interest.
I doubt that Israel will take these messages seriously, and I believe it will continue its extremist policies towards the Palestinians. In this case, Israel must be ready to bear full responsibility for any deterioration in the security situation in Israel or the region.
As far as I can judge, Israel will not revisit its arrogant policies unless there is vigorous Arab and Palestinian action. By this I mean the military confrontation that will cause the new government to realize that it is facing a strong Arab bloc that believes in peace and accepts Israel’s integration into the region, provided that negotiations are launched as a route towards the establishment of a Palestinian state that responds to the reasonable Israeli security demands. And then, the Palestinian state will not be a gift from Israel, but a state created through diligent Arab and Palestinian endeavor that forces everyone to recognize it and the rights of the Palestinian people.
This op-ed was originally published in Al-Ahram newspaper on 6 December 2022.