Netanyahu Has a Policy: To Keep the Occupation Going

Israel’s efforts lead to moral devastation, the undermining of its international standing and an unnecessary escalation in the West Bank.

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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Settlement construction - AP - Sept 27, 2010
Settlement construction - AP - Sept 27, 2010Credit: AP
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initiates very little and prefers to react or take advantage of political opportunities. His passivity is usually depicted as a tactic to stay in office at minimum risk, and as an alternative to true statesmanship. But the prime minister does have a policy, which he promotes tirelessly: to deepen and perpetuate Israeli control over the West Bank.

This approach manifests itself in three ways: dodging detailed negotiations on the future of the territories; expropriating land and expediting construction in the settlements; and expelling Palestinians from Area C, which is under full Israeli control. The outcome is the gradual annexation of the West Bank while perpetuating the conflict and preventing the Palestinians from achieving full civil rights.

Netanyahu, who takes pride in his leadership in matters of security, economics and firefighting, doesn’t boast about his policy in the territories. He knows that the international community is united in its opposition to the occupation, settlements and the infringement of Palestinian human rights, so he avoids declarations that could spark criticism and boycott calls.

The occupation is carried out administratively and militarily via orders by generals and announcements on planning and construction. There are also arrest sweeps and coordination between the Shin Bet security service and its Palestinian counterparts, with the prime minister’s involvement played down.

In recent months, after negotiations with the Palestinians ceased, Netanyahu lifted some of the fog with which he cloaked his policy. He now says Israel will have to keep controlling the entire West Bank, not just the Jordan Valley. He believes that the only way to ensure Israel’s security is to station the army and the Shin Bet throughout the entire area.

It’s doubtful whether in his UN speech Monday and at his White House meeting with President Barack Obama, Netanyahu will tell the truth about his plans to perpetuate the occupation. Netanyahu has a consistent story in such forums: The Arabs and the Iranians are the successors of the Nazis and seek a second Holocaust, the West still hasn’t learned the lesson of the 1938 Munich Agreement, and its policy toward Israel is based on a dangerous combination of anti-Semitism and political correctness.

This time Netanyahu will focus on comparing Hamas to the Islamic State and in responding to the baseless claim by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Israel committed genocide against the Palestinians.

Just as in the peace speeches he has abandoned, Netanyahu’s battle to explain Israel’s position conceals his true policy and blocks a discussion on the inevitable outcome: Israel’s moral devastation, the undermining of its international standing and an unnecessary and bloody escalation in the territories.

The war with Hamas showed once again that Israel needs leadership that will solve the problem, not perpetuate it. In the entrenchment of the occupation and settlements, Netanyahu is working against the national interest.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, July 28, 2014.Credit: Reuters

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