Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


The Return of Benjamin Netanyahu

David Miller Online. The Return of Benjamin Netanyahu

The decision by Benjamin Netanyahu to accept an offer from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to become Israel’s foreign minister means that what is left of the Middle East peace process is at a serious crossroad. Although Mr. Netanyahu was himself defeated as Prime Minister in 1999, he has never been far from the political scene and throughout Mr. Sharon’s time in office it has been a question of when, not if, Mr. Netanyahu would return from the wilderness. It would appear that this time has come and his return can only place question marks over the future of the peace process. Either Mr. Sharon is taking a calculated risk in trying to appease his rival by allowing him a voice in the direction of any Likud-led government or we are now seeing balance of power within Israeli politics move even further towards the right.

Mr. Netanyahu is an experienced and very shrewd political operator. Despite having resigned the chairmanship of the Likud Party in 1999, he made it clear that his presence was never entirely removed from Israel’s political scene. After military service in an elite Israeli commando unit, Mr. Netanyahu served as an Israeli representative to the United States and the United Nations before returning home to a ministerial post in the Likud administrations of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. He served as Prime Minister from 1996 until his defeat by Labour leader Ehud Barak in the 1999 elections.

Throughout his tenure as Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu often took a hard-line approach to the conflict in the Occupied Territories. He was firm in his demand that he would not enter into talks with the Palestinians unless the violence was halted and was not afraid to use the military to maintain Israel’s security when required. This stance has hardened during his time out of the political limelight and he is said to favour the deportation Yasser Arafat and would resist any moves towards Palestinian statehood.

Mr. Netanyahu has demonstrated his political savvy by only accepting Mr. Sharon’s offer on the condition that the Prime Minister calls for early elections. Mr. Netanyahu claims that early elections are necessary if the right-wing government is to survive and if it’s political and economic agenda is to be pushed through the Knesset. Palestinian suicide bombings are foremost in people’s minds and it is likely that Mr. Netanyahu recognises that the right wing within Israel will prosper while the peace process remains in stalemate or should it collapse and as the violence continues. While there are repeated attacks against Israeli citizens, those who call for a harder line against the Palestinians will be the ones who win votes as the Israeli people become more sceptical of peacemaking efforts and dialogue with the Palestinians.

Mr. Netanyahu’s return from the political wilderness places Mr. Sharon in a difficult position. It has been reported that he has welcomed his rival’s proposal in principle but has not come forth with an election date. Mr. Sharon is trying to establish a coalition with other right wing parties. If any of these parties join his coalition then it is likely they will press for a tougher line against the Palestinians, demand that there is no discussion over the future of Jerusalem and seek more funding for settlements in the Occupied Territories. All of these issues are the major stumbling blocks for peace in the region and any resolution now looks even further away.

Such moves do not bode well for the peace process. The Palestinian Authority is concerned that a right wing government will only seek to escalate the conflict and has labelled the government a ‘Cabinet of war’. Only time will tell as to whether Mr. Netanyahu can secure a political comeback and whether his possible rise to the Cabinet is simply a move to placate him or indicative of a shift within Israel towards the hard-line right. It is likely that Mr. Netanyahu will use his new post to strengthen his support base and use it to mount a challenge on Mr. Sharon’s leadership, thus becoming Prime Minister once again. If that happens then the peace process will almost certainly exist in name only.

It is possible that the Israeli voters could halt Mr. Netanyahu’s political comeback. There is no guarantee they will endorse a hard-line approach to the conflict and international pressure could also play a role. It depends on how weary they are of the violence and whether they believe dialogue can achieve a lasting peace. Should they decide that it cannot and believe a tough approach is needed to stem the damage caused by further suicide bombings then the door will certainly be open to the comeback of Benjamin Netanyahu.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news