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Netanyahu's Departure Essential For Palestine's Peaceful Future – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Netanyahu's Departure Essential for Palestine's Peaceful Future

TK ARUN

The only way to stop the killing in Gaza is for Netanyahu to be replaced as prime minister by some other leader. The sooner the United States, Israel’s principal backer and funder, realises this, and works towards this end, the better off both Palestinians and the rest of the world would be.

Netanyahu opposes Palestinian statehood. He is an obstacle, even if his unpopularity does not compel him to continue with the war, as the only way to remain prime minister.

As Ramadan begins, many residents of Gaza starve, out of compulsion, rather than fast, out of ritual piety. Around the world, protests against the ongoing slaughter in Gaza snarl traffic, resound in venues meant for other events and discomfit politicians accustomed to supporting Israel as a matter of course.

Much of the world has been urging a ceasefire in Gaza. Israel has not cared. The US has been sending out signals to the government of Israel that it would like to see a cessation of hostilities, if not an end to the war, but no one in the government of Israel is around to receive those signals. Now, after a sizeable chunk of voters in Michigan, who would otherwise have registered themselves as Democrats opted to describe themselves as uncommitted, in the run-up to the presidential election in November, President Joe Biden has personally endorsed the call for a ceasefire in Gaza. So far, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has not relented.

Death toll in Gaza crosses 31,000

The only way to stop the killing in Gaza is for Netanyahu to be replaced as prime minister by some other leader. The sooner the United States, Israel’s principal backer and funder, realises this, and works towards this end, the better off both Palestinians and the rest of the world would be.

Germany is gearing up to foil Islamist terror attacks targeting Jewish institutions and prominent Jews, according to news reports. There are reports of rising sentiments both of Islamophobia and of antisemitism, across the world, as the war in Gaza continues to ravage Palestinian lives, the reputation of the Jewish state as a democracy, and humanity’s conscience. The death toll in Gaza is put at over 31,000, not counting the missing, many of whom are suspected to be crushed under the debris of bombed-out buildings. The toll of lives could climb higher still as sheer shortage of food, medicine, and essential sanitation takes its toll, via starvation, disease and a failing healthcare system.

A stark fact that comes out from the reports on difficulties in the path of relief trucks reaching Gaza, thanks to the war, is how reliant Palestine is on aid, to sustain itself. Not just in times of war, but in times that can only be described as non-war. Can a nation that depends perpetually on externally supplied aid for food, healthcare, education, social services and shelter be described as normal, or at peace?

Palestinians slaughtered at will

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is called UNRWA for short. It was set up in 1949, to take care of the refugees produced by creation of a new state of Israel in a region inhabited by the Palestinian people for a couple of thousand years. The goal was to create two new states, one of Israel and the other of Palestine. Israel got established, and received not just massive external support in terms of arms and funding, but also people with highly developed intellectual and cultural capital, newly determined to fortify themselves as a nation against a repeat of the holocaust.

Instead of a land without a people for a people without a land, the Jews who gathered in the Palestine mandate of the crumbling British empire found their promised land already settled. The settlers were driven out, and became refugees, to help whom the UN set up UNRWA, never imagining this to be a permanent fixture. The state of Palestine remains an idea, whose time never ceases to arrive.

Three-quarters of a century after it was founded, UNRWA finds itself still running 58 refugee camps, 706 schools, employs more than 30,000 healthcare personnel to care for Palestinians, provide emergency food and cash assistance to 1.8 million and more Palestinians. In other words, Palestinians have been reduced to a people dependent on aid provided from outside, without a state, without political rights or economic opportunities, enclosed in a tiny space. And now, they are being slaughtered at will in that tiny space.

Oslo Accords

The closest a Palestinian state came to becoming a reality was when the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords in US President Bill Clinton’s presence in the US capital. A religious fundamentalist assassinated Rabin and the accord collapsed. Subsequently, Israeli leaders tried to undermine the secular PLO by funding and propping up a religious opposition, in the form of Hamas.

Netanyahu belongs to the school of Israeli politicians who believe that Palestinians can continue in the present fashion indefinitely, without the need to find any permanent solution to their statelessness. To the rest of the world, including to the US, it is clear that permanent peace between Israel and Palestine cannot be found without forming a state of Palestine.

Netanyahu opposes Palestinian statehood

Of course, the ideal solution is a single state of Israel in which Palestinians and Jews live together in harmony. That ideal need not stand in the way of a two-state solution, if that is seen as an interim step to the ideal solution. But keeping Palestinians stateless and helplessly dependent on aid is a problem, not the solution.

Netanyahu opposes Palestinian statehood. He is an obstacle, even if his unpopularity does not compel him to continue with the war, as the only way to remain prime minister. He is thoroughly unpopular, on account of undermining the independence of Israel’s judiciary, under pressure from the rightwing Jewish groups he depends on for the slender majority he has in the Knesset, his culpability for the failure of intelligence that led to the October 7 attack, the criminal cases he would have to face if he loses his prime minister’s post.

If Biden wants to make sure that no voter in a swing state like Michigan would refuse to vote for him because of the continuing slaughter in Gaza, he would have to use the leverage the US has with Israel to replace Netanyahu with someone else who does not have a personal or political stake in the war continuing indefinitely.

TK Arun is a Senior Journalist and Columnist based in Delhi.

The article was first published as ‘Netanyahu must go, for Gaza to find peace’ in The Federal on March 15, 2024.

Disclaimer: All views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and not necessarily to the organization.

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Acknowledgement: Posted by Sameeran Galagali, a Research Intern at IMPRI.

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