With the new far-right Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, there’s a lot of talk in the Western media about what this could be mean for the Palestinians. In short, nothing good. I was interviewed by global broadcaster TRT World about these related issues:
While there is much debate inside Israeli political and military circles on Netanyahu’s army restructuring, these changes will bring more deadly results for Palestinians than Israelis, says Antony Loewenstein, an independent journalist and author of the forthcoming book, The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the World.
The hardliner Netanyahu government will facilitate “even greater ideological and practical cover for the pro-settler arm of the Israeli military,” Loewenstein tells TRT World, referring to an ongoing struggle inside the Israeli army between far-right groups and centrists to dominate the military’s top brass.
According to some observers, the army’s top leadership dominated by centrists embraces a more moderate stance toward the Palestinian conflict than many lower-ranked officers and soldiers, who tend to subscribe to many views of extremist parties like Smotrich’s Religious Zionism and Ben Gvir’s Jewish Power. Both parties strongly oppose Palestinian statehood.
As a result, both leaders have long aimed to control political posts in relation to occupied areas to increase their influence inside the Israeli state, empowering the pro-settler army faction. “The time has come for a government that supports its soldiers and allows them to act,” said Ben Gvir after a recent incident in Hebron, showing his support for freer open-fire regulations for the Israeli army.
“A sizable proportion of the Israeli military voted for the far-right at the recent election and these are the soldiers patrolling and enforcing the occupation across the West Bank,” says Loewenstein.
But Loewenstein does not think that the outgoing Israeli government, which many analysts found more moderate than the current one, was “more generous” to Palestinians. The data also proves Loewenstein’s point, showing 2022 as the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in over 15 years under the Naftali Bennett-led and Yair Lapid’s caretaker government.
“However, the far-right will soon be in complete control of the Israeli military and this will inevitably result in more Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians across the [occupied] West Bank and [occupied] East Jerusalem,” says Loewenstein, adding that the existing awful situation will “only worsen” as Israel will move “to embrace a theocratic future”.
“Whatever tensions may develop between the army and the Netanyahu government are surely less important than what Palestinians must face every day under an Israeli state that views them as an inconvenience, at best.”