AROUND THE WORLD: Israeli PM Netanyahu To Stand Trial

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has formed an alliance with the party known as “Jewish Power” in the hopes of securing a new majority in this years elections. The party’s make up of fascist Kahanist members has led to wide spread condemnation from across the political spectrum from AIPAC to Hadash. It comes as criminal charges are being filed by the Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit against Netanyahu after the Israeli High Court blocked a petition by Netanyahu’s Likud party. Likud had wished for the charges to be announced and pushed back to after the April elections. Netanyahu, pending a hearing, will face trial for the charges making it a first in Israeli political history.

Jewish Power is considered to be a successor to the Brooklyn-born Rabbi Meir Kahan’s Kach Party, which the U.S. deemed a terrorist organisation and which Israel banned for its racist policies four years after it first entered the Knesset in 1984. One of the party’s most infamous fanatics was Baruch Goldstein who massacred 29 people in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, the Muslim holy site at the Cave of the Patriarchs, with an assault rifle before being beaten to death by the survivors of the massacre. Meir Kahan was himself shot to death on the 5th of November 1990.

Jewish Power in its modern form still carries the legacy of the Kach party. Leading figures have made blatant homophobic and racist statements including labelling homosexuality a “disease of choice” and campaigning against marriages between Jews and non-Jews. One such key figure is Itamar Ben Gvir who was arrested in 2007 for inciting racism, carrying a sign that read out “Expel the Arab enemy”.

Netanyahu’s alliance with these extremists showcases his desperation to remain in power as corruption charges have now meant he will face trial following a hearing, striking a massive blow to his re-election campaign in April. With the high courts rejection of Likud’s petition has come accusation of a political stitch up from the left against Likud. In a statement the hard right Zionist party declared “It is unfortunate that the High Court didn’t prevent the left from blatantly intervening in the elections,”

However, it is not only the Attorney General’s declaration of bribery and breach of trust charge’s that may offset this far right coalition. It has been reported that Israel’s Central Elections Commission will consider whether Jewish Power will be permitted to even run candidates in the coming election as politicians from the left are appealing for a ban on the fascist party. Likewise, Likud are appealing for a ban on Balad which represents Palestinians in Israel as Likud have asserted that Balad’s calls for a state that represents all citizens endangers Israel’s definition as a “Jewish” state.

To add further disgrace to the Netanyahu administration, a United Nations Human Rights Council inquiry has found that IDF soldiers deliberately shot at children and people with disabilities during the “Great March of Return” Gaza border protests last year. As detailed in an earlier TPN piece, over the past 11 months Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have faced off against IDF snipers protesting against horrific conditions in the Gaza Strip which have been aggravated by a long running embargo. Already Netanyahu has dismissed the report stating the UN had set “new records for hypocrisy and mendacity out of an obsessive hatred of Israel.”

It seems that between the corruption charges and the widespread condemnation of his facilitation of the merger of the Kahanist ultra nationalist fascist parties Jewish Power and Jewish Home, Netanyahu is on hist last legs as Israel’s long running PM. His political failure’s last November against the armed factions of Gaza seems to have set off a reaction that will likely result in his toppling as Prime Minister. If that is the case he goes out with a political record that showcases his administrations widespread discrimination of the Palestinian population it holds under occupation. If Netanyahu’s right wing government is to lose Aprils elections or if he is to found guilty of corruption, then his administration of apartheid will surely not be missed.

Sam Glasper is TPN’s Foreign Affairs Commentator and studies at Manchester Metropolitain University.


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