The new Israeli government, a coalition of ultrareligious, fundamentalist, racist, and neoliberal ideologues and placeholders, ensures that settlements will continue to expand. The lives of Jerusalem Arabs, Negev Bedouin, and Area C Palestinian residents will be embittered and endangered by intensive expropriation and Judaization campaigns. Every two years or so a military operation in Gaza, Lebanon, or the West Bank will “cut the grass”—
that is, cause enough destruction to plunge Palestinian society into misery and discourage any plans to mobilize violently against Israel in the near future. Some key demands of settlers, including construction of Jewish housing in the E1 zone between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem and expansion of ultranationalist Jewish presence on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, will be pushed aggressively. Israeli foreign policy will continue to characterize the Middle East as a polarized battleground between civilization and Islamist barbarism, to stick its fingers in the eyes of European critics and the Obama administration, while also seeking effective but under-the-table alliances with antidemocratic forces in Egypt, the Arab Gulf, and elsewhere in the region. The hysterical campaign against Iranian nuclear technology and the Orwellian refusal to discuss the future of Israel’s massive nuclear arsenal will also continue.
It’s an ill wind that blows no good, and the very extremism of this government is as good a guarantee as any that another doomed and counterproductive American negotiating initiative will not materialize, or will at least be substantially delayed. This gives progressives and peace builders a desperately needed opportunity.
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