Steven Sahiounie, journalist and political commentator
Ariel Sharon, deceased former Israeli Prime Minister, said he was not concerned about Arab countries, or the Palestinians destroying Israel. He said his only fear was that the relationship between Israel and America would change, and the lack of US support for Israel would be the end of the country.
US President Joe Biden has denounced the proposed Israeli bill which, according to Biden, threatens stripping Israel from their coveted status as a democracy.
Thousands of Israeli citizens are protesting judicial reforms proposed by the extremist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Street protests against the proposed bill began in January, and are gathering momentum as military units, labor unions, and medical associations join the throng of protesters.
Over 500 Israeli airforce pilots have said they will refuse to perform their duties if called on in protest of the bill.
Netanyahu is powerless to stop the protests, or the bill. His personal freedom hangs in the balance and is dependent on the Jewish extremists who brought him to power in the last election. Without their support, his government would collapse, and he would face jail time on corruption charges. In the past, Netanyahu had ridiculed those extremists and maintained he would never give them positions in his government. But, now his freedom and position depend on their support to keep him at the helm of the government.
The controversial bill at the heart of the protests would diminish the power of the judiciary to review and comment on proposed government moves. In the classic ‘checks and balances’ of a modern democracy, one of the ‘checks’ would be made impotent. The extremists in control of the government could railroad bills into law which could strip women of rights, and ethnically cleanse further areas in the Occupied Territory of the Palestinians, making the US and UN supported Two-State-Solution for Palestine impossible.
Elements in the Netanyahu government rebuked Biden for his comments about Israel, saying they would never bow down to US pressure, and that Israel is not a star on the American flag. The Biden government has distanced itself from the extremist Netanyahu government and called on Netanyahu to throw out the proposed bill. Biden has promised to host Netanyahu in a White House visit, but the date has not been set, making media reports rife with commentary on the rocky relationship.
Continuing tensions between Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank Territory and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have seen repeated attacks on Jenin and other hot-spots by the IDF with deaths and injuries sustained by civilians.
The Israeli street protests are not aimed at promoting the freedom and democracy of the 6 million Palestinians under occupation, but are aimed at resisting the judiciary reform bill which will affect the 6 million Jews who live in freedom and have human rights, whereas the Palestinians have neither freedom nor human rights.
When Netanyahu came to power, he promised his priority was to sign up more Arab countries to the Abraham Accords, with the crown prize being Saudi Arabia. However, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has insisted that the end of the occupation of Palestine must come first before any normalization can begin.
Netanyahu has made a priority of annexing even more occupied lands in the West Bank which house American Jews who are religious extremists and are supporters of the extremist far-right parties in the Netanyahu government alliance.
The northern border of Israel is not secure as Israel has recently begun a process of encroaching further into Lebanon. The Lebanese resistance group is well prepared to launch resistance operations into Israel, and with the IDF and Israeli airforce in disarray from protesting the bill, the security of Israel is hanging in the balance.
Netanyahu is well known for instigating military operations against Gaza and the West Bank in order to divert attention away from his domestic political problems. Netanyahu bets on the unity of the Israeli citizens to ban together in times of a military crisis; however, he might lose that bet now because the Jews are far from united due to the continuing protests against the government. He can’t depend on the military either, as they are taking a political stand against the controversial bill which seems unstoppable. Some analysts have gone so far as to suggest the brewing of civil war in Israel.
The White House has been concerned about the freedoms enjoyed by the Israeli citizens, and the loss of those freedoms presented by the bill if passed into law. Meanwhile, the White House disregards the total lack of human rights and freedom of the Palestinians living under a brutal occupation which shows no sign of changing.
While the Israeli citizens are struggling to retain their freedom and democracy, the Palestinian resistance movement continues to fight for the end of occupation and their human rights. With the US continuing to support the occupation of the Palestinian territories, and refusing to pressure Israel to sit at the negotiation table, the status quo will be maintained. America is complicit in the oppression and suffering of the Palestinian people, and the Israeli citizens are as well.
Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist