The Israeli Rightist Push for Extremism: Facts and Implications

It is noteworthy that the push for racist laws passed by the Israeli Knesset during its (last) 20th session began following the announcement of the results of the American presidential election in early November, 2016 which brought the very much pro-Israel Ronald Trump Administration to power. On top of those laws were those relating to the status of the occupied city of Jerusalem and the Nation-state law which confirms the racist nature of Israel. The latter remained as a bill in the corridors of the Israeli parliament before being finally approved after three terms. Indeed, during its last session the Knesset recorded an unprecedented peak in the number of racist laws which aimed to exclude the Palestinians, and to – in effect – institutionalize racism and fascism. According to a report by Madar, the Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies, the Knesset during its last four-year term “passed 35 racist bills in support of occupation and Jewish colonial settlement, a term that will form a basis for more dangerous laws that the Knesset will approve in its new period.”

At the beginning of its final session which ended with the dissolution of the Knesset following the failure of Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government, Knesset member Yoav Kisch proposed two bills from the previous Knesset. The first called for imposing Israeli sovereignty over the occupied West Bank and the second included limiting the power of the Israeli Supreme Court. The first bill aimed at enacting courts’ jurisdiction and civil administration in Jewish “settlements” in the West Bank and defining the status of colonial settlers as an integral part of the Israeli State, without specifying the areas that will come under Israeli sovereignty. The second bill aimed at curbing the role of the Supreme Court by reducing it in repealing laws approved by the Knesset. According to this bill, the Supreme Court with all its justices present, has the right to examine the validity of laws and their compatibility with the Basic Law. If the law is found to be contradictory with the Basic Law, its repeal will be conditional on a unanimous decision of the court’s justices if they reach a conclusion that a clear contradiction exists between a law passed by the Knesset and one of the Basic Law. Meanwhile, the (hard-line) right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party has announced that it is calling for “a government law to curb the activity of leftist parties in Israel and prevent interference of foreign political groups in the internal affairs of Israel by imposing taxes on organizations financed by foreign countries or entities.” The call was quickly welcomed by the Pro-Life organization with a rightist leaning that supports women in crisis. The organization concluded: Such a call would “prevent foreign countries from offering assistance and funding far leftist Israeli organizations defending Palestinians.” It further added: “Our sons’ blood will not be wasted. It is about time for European governments to understand that.”

It is more likely that the next Knesset will be worse than the previous one. The political programs of Israel’s new powerful right and extreme right, openly calls for the abolition of the Palestinian political presence and keeping one state. This involves a voluntary migration of Palestinians, imposing Israeli sovereignty on Al-Aqsa Mosque and building the ‘Temple’ in its place and annexation of the West Bank to Israel. Greater Jerusalem would incorporate Bethlehem and Jewish colonial settlements of Gosh Atsion and Beit Shemesh in the west and Modiin in the south, Ramallah city in the north, Maaleh Adomem settlement and the city of Jericho in the East.  The real danger lies in the fact that any next Israeli government will depend on political parties with ideologies seeking expulsion of the Palestinians, especially that their political programs adopted in the recent elections considered peace “no longer an option”. In other words, any new Israeli government will be more hostile to the Palestinians than ever before. In this context, Israeli writer Mikhail Varshavsky summed up these developments by saying: “The Israeli right-wing approach ended a system of governance and laid the foundation of a new system based on the programmed termination of the Supreme Court’s role as guarantor of fundamental freedoms, fighting the media, treating Arabs as second class citizens, and the adoption of a number of racist and arbitrary laws.” He concluded: “This new regime in the government is based on strengthening the religious character of society along with the widespread phenomenon of corruption, and alliance with the most reactionary governments in the world.”

We are facing a scene that is becoming clearer: the next government will be the most right wing in the history of Israeli politics and therefore the most dangerous to the Palestinian and Arab aspirations. Indeed, any future government, headed by Netanyahu or other rightists, will seek to enact new racist laws and introduce more radical steps, both against the Palestinians in the 1948 or the 1967 territories, and against the Arabs and Muslims wherever they may be. Such a government will try its best to accelerate the completion of the Judaization and colonialist measures at all levels, under the absolutely supportive political cover provided by the Trump Administration.