US secretary of state Anthony Blinken and Israel prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu (Picture: Twitter/ @SecBlinken)

Deadly raids, armed and emboldened violent settlers, and the threat of execution for fighting back. The vision of life for Palestinians under Israel’s new right wing government is starting to take shape.

In the past couple of weeks, the Israeli government has steamed ahead with repressive measures that previous administrations only dreamed of. Israeli forces have killed ten Palestinians in Jenin in the West Bank, with soldiers leading raids and pepper spraying children. 

Meanwhile Israeli jets blast Gaza and in east Jerusalem and its cops and soldiers demolish Palestinian houses. And there are proposals to introduce the death penalty for Palestinians who resist Israel’s ­apartheid regime.

National security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said he’d propose a bill ensuring that perpetrators of certain “terrorist” offences “should be sent to the electric chair.” He said this should apply to “anyone who murders, harms or slaughters civilians.”

But Israel considers stone ­throwing—a popular way for Palestinians to defy soldiers, settlers and armoured vehicles—a terror offence. So any Palestinian who throws a stone could be executed if Ben-Gvir gets his way. Settlers are hardly innocent ­civilians. They throw stones and worse at Palestinian farmers and ­villagers in raids designed to drive them from their land.

But they don’t fear Israel’s terror laws. Instead, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to make it easier for them to obtain and carry guns. It’s already legal—and not ­unusual—for Israelis to carry ­handguns and rifles in the ­fortress-like settlement suburbs atop hills ­overlooking Palestinian villages.

But now, Netanyahu wants to speed up the process of applying for a permit. It’s all coupled with more pernicious plans to use the courts to push Palestinians out. Under a bill being rushed through Israel’s parliament—the Knesset—“terror” convicts with either Israeli citizenship or east Jerusalem residency permits will have these revoked. 

After serving time in prison, they would be deported to the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is supposedly in charge. But it’s also under Israeli military control. Israel’s government says these are all justified and necessary measures after two attacks by Palestinians in east Jerusalem last month. Two Palestinians carried out separate shooting attacks against the settlers that make their lives hell.

Israel’s new government couldn’t wait to turn the screw. The ­government is led by Netanyahu’s right wing Likud party, and propped up by Ben-Gvir’s far right Religious Zionism group, rooted in nationalist and settler movements. Together, they won November’s election by promising to push Palestinians out—appealing to the deep-seated racism in Israel.

They’ve already sped up the ­demolition of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Their crackdown on Palestinians is appalling—but in some ways it’s nothing new. It’s just an intensification of the same methods the Israeli state has employed to drive Palestinians out ever since it was founded in 1948.

Top US official fails to condemn Israel’s apartheid regime  

 US secretary of state Antony Blinken arrived in Israel last week posing as the restorer of calm and defender of democracy. Following talks with Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Blinken appeared to criticise him in a joint press conference. Netanyahu is trying to push through sweeping changes to Israel’s judicial and legal system, designed to make it easier for the government to do whatever it likes.

But in a thinly-veiled swipe at the plans, Blinken delivered a sort of lecture on the importance of “democratic values and institutions”. Praising the large demonstrations against the overhaul, he said that “the vibrancy of Israel’s civil society has been on full display of late.” 

It was a hint at the tension between Israel’s new government and the US, whose support and funding the state depends on. The myth of the two-state solution—the false promise of an independent Palestine alongside a state of Israel—is at the heart of this. The nationalist parties propping up Netanyahu’s government hate the idea. 

They want all of Palestine to become officially part of Israel. No Israeli government before Netanyahu has ever been serious about allowing a Palestinian state to happen. Protesters have driven any display of support for Palestinians from their movement. And only eight Knesset politicians—from the minority Arab parties—voted against the new plans to strip “terrorists” of their citizenship.

But they all—like the US—know they need to keep the lies of a “democratic” Israel and a two-state solution going. Blinken said Israel’s “long-term security” depended on its “long-term identity as a Jewish and democratic state.”

The real purpose of Blinken’s trip was to discuss cementing Israel’s alliances in the Middle East against Iran, and to encourage it to send weapons to Ukraine. For that reason, while Blinken took every opportunity to condemn Palestinian “terror”, he didn’t have a bad word to say for Netanyahu’s new anti‑Palestinian laws. For that reason—despite Blinken’s gentle criticism—Netanyahu left smiling.

Palestinian Authority cannot be trusted    

 After visiting Israel, US secretary of state Antony Blinken travelled to the West Bank with plans to make the Palestinian Authority (PA) launch its own violent crackdown on resistance. Blinken wants the PA to set up militarised police SWAT units to raid Palestinian refugee camps on Israel’s behalf.

Since 2021, new armed resistance groups have grown in Palestinian refugee camps in the cities of Jenin and Nablus. But that’s precisely the sort of resistance the US and Israel hoped the PA would get rid of. For many Palestinians, they offer an alternative to the discredited PA. 

It still hopes that talks and cooperation with the US and Israel will eventually lead to a state of its own. PA president Mahmoud Abbas didn’t give Blinken a final answer. He knows the resistance is popular and wants Israel to stop conducting its own raids on Palestinian cities. Ultimately, he still depends on the US’s and Israel’s support. 

After the Israeli raid on Jenin last month, Abbas said the PA would halt “security coordination” with Israel. But he reassured Blinken this was only partial and temporary. The PA would keep on giving Israel information about Palestinian resistance.

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