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Terrorism, Zionism & Jingoism

West Asia recently faced a storm, yet again! People, living in the region, witnessed another relentless Arab-Jewish conflict and resistance for 11 days. It seems that rocket attacks have become common phenomena for the residents of Gaza, West Bank and Israel. The entire region has been transformed into a ticking time bomb. It is seen that often incidents of destructions and deaths tend to become beneficial for some people. As far as the latest Israel-Palestine clashes are concerned, it may be said that Prime Minister of Israel and leader of the right-wing Likud Party Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu is the biggest political gainer.

Israel has been going through a political turmoil for the past few years. Despite holding four elections in the last two years, Israel has failed to get a stable Government. Hence, there is no Annual Budget after 2018. As policy-making has become complicated, people’s confidence in various institutions has decreased. Israel’s internal politics is an extremely complex one, mainly because of the multi-party system. One can find the presence of Ultra-Right-wing parties and also the Left parties in the Jewish Nation. In some cases, Religion, too, becomes an important factor. A continuous game of trapeze with one of them has become the political obligation of the country.

PM Netanyahu

As Israel follows the system of proportional representation, the number of seats of a party in the Parliament or Knesset is determined by the percentage of votes received, and it is seen that in a multi-party democratic system, it is difficult for any party to get an absolute majority due to proportional representation. Furthermore, Israel is a mixed society, where three-fourth of the population is Jewish and one-fifth is Arab. Discussions on post-poll alliance went in vain for the fourth time in the last two years, and Israel failed to form a Coalition Government. Caretaker Prime Minister Netanyahu failed to form a new Government in May 2021, putting his political future in jeopardy as he stands trial on corruption charges. He may also face prison sentence. Hence, Bibi is not fighting hard to save his political career, but also trying to safeguard the dynamics of his personal life.

The near-impossible task of ousting Netanyahu, the longest-serving Prime Minister of Israel, was about to take place, and the country was all set to create history. In a rare first, an Arab party – United Arab List – was going to join the Ruling Coalition, and the development might have a long-term impact on the Arab-Jewish relations. Leaders of the right-wing Yamina or Yemina Party and centrist Yesh Atid Party almost wrapped up talks on formation of an anti-Netanyahu six-party alliance. However, Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel, movements of Israeli aircraft in Gaza, and clashes in mixed Jewish-Arab cities changed the scenario. It may be noted that the United Arab List is ideologically associated with the Palestinian Hamas Movement. Hence, United Arab List leader Mansour Abbas had to take a break from the discussions on forming a Coalition Government. The creation of new History, too, has come to a halt with this.

If the anti-Netanyahu alliance fails to form a Coalition Government due to this chaos, then Israel will soon see another election… the fifth one in two-and-half years. So, the 11-day Israel-Palestine clash has given some time to Prime Minister Netanyahu. The question arises here: Why did Hamas join the conflict at such a time? Some Political Experts have called the relationship between Netanyahu and the Hamas Movement a ‘Purposeful Ally’. In other words, they want to sustain themselves even through mutual opposition! It is clear that neither Netanyahu nor Hamas is interested in the UN-declared Two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. PM Netanyahu had promised to eliminate Hamas when he returned to power in 2009. However, he has made no efforts to do so since then.

The current political crisis in Israel began in November 2018, when secular centre-right nationalist outfit Yisrael Beiteinu of Avigdor Lieberman left the ruling coalition while opposing the Government’s decision to agree a ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza. Lieberman, the Soviet-born Israeli politician who served as the Defence Minister of Israel from 2016 to 2018, characterised the ceasefire as “surrendering to terror“. Therefore, the recent Israel-Hamas conflict has created a politically favourable situation for Prime Minister Netanyahu. A section of the Israelis, living in constant turmoil, consider their PM as ‘Mr Security’. So, Netanyahu has somehow managed to restore his image ahead of the possible Parliamentary Elections. Still, it is not clear whether Netanyahu will be able to form the Government.

Avigdor Lieberman

This time, US President Joe Biden quickly urged both the parties to restore peace. Many countries, including France, made the same request to Israel and the Hamas. Perhaps, the Hamas is not ready to take more blows at this point. Right now, Israel-Palestine conflict is beneficial for Netanyahu, but not for the Hamas. The Palestinian outfit often disrupts peace by launching attacks on Israel for its own survival. More than five decades have passed since the six-day Arab-Israeli War in 1967. The uncertainty, surrounding Gaza or the West Bank, is still there. And, the deadly time bomb, called Jerusalem, keeps ticking.

Every Morning Asia online portal has claimed that the recent crisis between Israel and the Hamas Movement could have a substantial impact on South Asia, a region that not only borders West Asia, but whose sizeable Muslim population could be influenced by Islamist hardliners to violently protest for the Palestinian cause. South Asia has a varied dynamic when it comes to Israel. While India and Nepal have long-standing ties with Israel, Muslim-majority states – such as Pakistan and Bangladesh – are more supportive of the Palestinian cause, with Bhutan, which just normalised relations with Israel in December 2020, found somewhere in between.

South Asia

For India, the current crisis may be a good opportunity to act as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. New Delhi’s robust ties over the years with both Tel Aviv and Ramallah have pushed it now in playing the role of a serious broker. Indian-Israeli relations strengthened even more with the election of Narendra Modi in 2014, who became the first sitting Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel in 2017. At the same time, India has not abandoned the Palestinian cause, supporting the Two-State solution in global forums.

On the other hand, Pakistan could play a more active role in continuing to support the Palestinian cause. This would eliminate any speculation that Islamabad could be next in line in normalising relations with Israel. Even though informal contacts between the Pakistani and Israeli officials have existed since the late 1940s, and the Israeli and Pakistani Foreign Ministers held a public meeting in Turkey in 2005; Islamabad remained one of the staunchest supporters of the Palestinian Rights, promoting it as a priority alongside Kashmir.

Israeli PM Netanyahu with Indian PM Modi (R)

Both India and Pakistan could play an active role in ensuring the safety of Jewish communities in the region after the media branch of al-Qaeda urged Muslims in the region to attack Jewish groups, which could be of particular concern to India and Nepal owning the largest such communities in South Asia.

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