Word of the Month
Reversing the Trend toward Middle East Stability?
For the past seven months we have been witnessing a protest movement in Israel of unprecedented strength and tenacity, demonstrating a deep divide within Israeli society. The crisis revolves around a new law to limit the Supreme Court’s power to check government and legislative action. This law has now passed the first of three readings in the Knesset.
This political divide is of historic importance. A significant number of military personnel, especially reservists in the army and air force, along with labor unions, professional organizations and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Israelis, oppose this fundamental lurch away from democratic principles of governance in internal Jewish Israeli affairs.
This change is the product of the current coalition government, the most right-wing that has ever ruled Israel. In addition to their anti-democratic moves within internal Israeli politics, the coalition consistently and openly ignores international rules, sensitivities and norms. They have intensified the country’s racist and supremacist agenda, including formally annexing the West Bank of the Jordan River and open trampling the rights of Palestinians living under occupation.
There is no sign whatsoever of this crisis abating. On the contrary, its expected further development has serious implications for the region as a whole.
Netanyahu is caught between a rock and a hard place. Experience has taught him that he must slow down this process to take into account international reaction to these policies. Meanwhile, his coalition partners are focused solely upon their supremacist goals and are hell-bent on forging ahead as fast as possible. They appear to be oblivious to the implications for the developing normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel -- indeed between Israel and the Arab world at large! With Netanyahu’s political power in the balance, it is all too easy to imagine an international confrontation suddenly developing in the hope of saving the Prime Minister’s political skin once again, further destabilizing the region.