How Netanyahu’s Hamas coverage got here again to hang-out him — and Israel

Israelis do not agree on a lot, particularly currently, however polling exhibits they largely agree that Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is responsible for leaving Israel unprepared for Hamas’s onslaught on October 7.

The accusations geared toward Netanyahu transcend merely failing to foresee or forestall the Hamas assault of October 7, nevertheless. Many accuse him of intentionally empowering the group for many years as a part of a technique to sabotage a two-state resolution primarily based on the precept of land for peace.

“There’s been a variety of criticism of Netanyahu in Israel for instating a coverage for a few years of strengthening Hamas and holding Gaza on the brink whereas weakening the Palestinian Authority,” mentioned Mairav Zonszein of the Worldwide Disaster Group. “And we have seen that taking place very clearly on the bottom.”

“(Hamas and Netanyahu) are mutually reinforcing, within the sense that they supply one another with a method to proceed to make use of drive and rejectionism versus making sacrifices and compromises with a view to attain some type of decision,” Zonszein informed CBC Information from Tel Aviv.

‘Preserve Hamas alive and kicking’

This symbiotic relationship between Netanyahu and Hamas has been remarked on for years, by each pals and enemies, hawks and doves.

Yuval Diskin, former head of Israel’s Shin Wager safety service, informed the each day newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth in 2013 that “if we take a look at it over time, one of many fundamental folks contributing to Hamas’s strengthening has been Bibi Netanyahu, since his first time period as prime minister.”

In August 2019, former prime minister Ehud Barak informed Israeli Military Radio that Netanyahu’s “technique is to maintain Hamas alive and kicking … even on the value of abandoning the residents [of the south] … with a view to weaken the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.”

The logic underlying this technique, Barak mentioned, is that “it is simpler with Hamas to clarify to Israelis that there isn’t any one to sit down with and nobody to speak to.”

Netanyahu’s critics say that Hamas — with its bloodthirsty rhetoric, open antisemitism and acknowledged intention by no means to share the land — performed into the arms of a first-rate minister who additionally wished to have the ability to inform western governments that Israel has “no associate” for peace.

Supporting Hamas rule in Gaza, these critics say, allowed Netanyahu to restrict the Palestinian Authority to the West Financial institution and weaken it, dividing the Palestinians into two mutually antagonistic blocs.

Hamas places its finger on the scales 

Netanyahu first got here to energy within the 1996 election that adopted the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by an Israeli extremist against the Oslo Accords.

Early polls confirmed Rabin’s successor Shimon Peres comfortably forward.

Decided to sabotage Oslo, Hamas launched into a ruthless suicide bombing marketing campaign that helped Netanyahu pull forward of Peres and win the election on Could 29, 1996.

Right this moment, a number of the similar extremists who referred to as for Rabin’s demise maintain energy in Netanyahu’s authorities.

A youthful Ben Gvir exhibits off a Cadillac hood decoration he claimed to have taken from Yitzhak Rabin’s automobile shortly earlier than the Israeli peacemaker was assassinated. Convicted of terrorism prices, Ben Gvir is at present Israel’s minister of nationwide safety. (Screengrab YouTube)

Simply two weeks earlier than Rabin’s assassination, a younger settler extremist posed for the cameras with a Cadillac hood decoration he mentioned he had stolen from Rabin’s automobile. “Similar to we bought to this emblem,” he mentioned, “we might get to Rabin.”

Right this moment, that younger man, Itamar Ben Gvir, is 45 years previous and has eight Israeli legal convictions — together with convictions for supporting a terrorist group and incitement to racism. As soon as he was rejected by the Israel Protection Forces (IDF) for his extremist views. Now, Israel’s police should reply to him as Benjamin Netanyahu’s minister of nationwide safety.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir smile before Netanyahu's statement in the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, Tuesday, May 23, 2023.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s Nationwide Safety Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir smile earlier than Netanyahu delivers a press release within the Knesset in Jerusalem on Could 23, 2023. (Ohad Zwigenberg/The Related Press)

Many analysts imagine one of many fundamental targets of the Hamas assault on Israel was to derail the normalization talks underway between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which might have left the Palestinians on the sidelines.

In a outstanding speech final week in Houston, Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal unleashed on Hamas for its atrocities and obstructionism. However he additionally had phrases for Israel.

“I condemn Hamas for additional undermining the Palestinian Authority, as Israel has been doing,” mentioned the previous Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the U.S. “I condemn Hamas for sabotaging the try of Saudi Arabia to achieve a peaceable decision to the plight of the Palestinian folks.

“I condemn Israel for funnelling Qatari cash to Hamas.”

Prince Turki was referring to cash that the Qatar royal household has been sending to Gaza for years, to the tune of a few billion U.S. {dollars}.

‘Hamas is an asset’

Netanyahu’s hawkish defence minister Avigdor Liberman was the primary to report in 2020 that Bibi had dispatched Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and the IDF’s officer accountable for Gaza, Herzi Halevi, to Doha to “beg” the Qataris to proceed to ship cash to Hamas.

“Each Egypt and Qatar are offended with Hamas and deliberate to chop ties with them. All of a sudden Netanyahu seems because the defender of Hamas,” the right-wing chief complained.

A yr later, Netanyahu was additional embarrassed when pictures of suitcases full of money going to Hamas turned public. Liberman lastly resigned in protest over Netanyahu’s Hamas coverage which, he mentioned, marked “the primary time Israel is funding terrorism in opposition to itself.”

Netanyahu’s training minister Naftali Bennett additionally denounced the funds, and in addition give up.

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The Palestinian Authority’s Ahmed Majdalani accused the Qatari envoy of carrying cash to Hamas “like a gangster.”

“The PLO didn’t conform to the deal facilitating the cash to Hamas that manner,” he mentioned.

After each Bennett and Liberman fell out with Netanyahu, he was defeated by a brand new authorities that stopped the money deliveries to Hamas. 

However that authorities lasted simply 18 months. Then Netanyahu returned to energy with new, extra excessive companions who backed the coverage of fostering Hamas to forestall a negotiated peace settlement.

Netanyahu’s present finance minister, West Financial institution settler Belazel Smotrich, defined the strategy to Israel’s Knesset channel in 2015: “Hamas is an asset, and (Palestinian Authority chief) Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is a burden.”

Paying Hamas to weaken Oslo

On March 12, 2019, Netanyahu defended the Hamas funds to his Likud Occasion caucus on the grounds that they weakened the pro-Oslo Palestinian Authority, in accordance with the Jerusalem Publish:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s common permitting of Qatari funds to be transferred into Gaza, saying it’s a part of a broader technique to maintain Hamas and the Palestinian Authority separate, a supply in Monday’s Likud faction assembly mentioned,” the Publish reported.

“The prime minister additionally mentioned that ‘whoever is in opposition to a Palestinian state needs to be for’ transferring the funds to Gaza, as a result of sustaining a separation between the Palestinian Authority within the West Financial institution and Hamas in Gaza helps forestall the institution of a Palestinian state.”

A man at a counter receives a handful of cash.
A Palestinian Hamas authorities worker waits to receives 60 per cent of their long-overdue wage whereas others wait within the queue in Gaza Metropolis on Nov. 9, 2018. Gaza’s Hamas rulers obtained $15 million from Qatar to assist pay the salaries of the territory’s civil servants. (Adel Hana/The Related Press)

Netanyahu insisted that neither the cash nor the development materials given to Hamas can be diverted to navy functions. However at present, the IDF finds itself exhibiting how Hamas has finished precisely that — by diverting and changing civilian funds and supplies to warlike functions.

The navy tried to warn him on the time, former IDF chief of employees Gadi Eisenkot informed the Ma’ariv newspaper. He mentioned Netanyahu acted “in whole opposition to the nationwide evaluation of the Nationwide Safety Council, which decided that there was a must disconnect from the Palestinians and set up two states.”

“We Gaza border residents are paying the worth for the shortage of coverage and the vanity in dealing with terror,” mentioned Labor Occasion Knesset member Haim Jelin in 2019.

These phrases would show to be terribly prescient 4 years later.

Haim Jelin is a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri. The small group was devastated by Hamas on October 7. Roughly 130 of its residents had been murdered, whereas others had been taken into captivity in Gaza.

Catch-22 for two-state resolution

Mustafa Barghouti, a doctor and member of the PLO Central Council, was a key determine in talks between Hamas and Fatah that sought to unify the Palestinians in a single bloc that might negotiate a two-state peace.

“Every time we moved towards unity, Netanyahu would launch a marketing campaign claiming that (Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud) Abbas is cooperating with terrorists,” Barghouti informed CBC Information from Ramallah within the West Financial institution.

“However every time Netanyahu was requested, ‘Why do not you negotiate with Abbas,’ he would say, ‘I can not negotiate with a Palestinian Authority that does not signify all Palestinians.’ And so he would use Hamas and this division to justify his absolute objection to any negotiated peace settlement.”

Palestinians mourn a child killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip during his funeral at a UN-run school in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023.
Palestinians mourn a toddler killed within the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip throughout his funeral at a UN-run college in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, on Oct. 27, 2023. (Ali Mahmoud/Related Press)

Barghouti mentioned the present conflict has ended U.S. and Israeli hopes of Israel normalizing relations with neighbouring international locations with out first resolving the Palestinian concern.

“One of many fundamental outcomes of what has occurred is to point out that normalization between Israel and a few Arab international locations doesn’t resolve the issue,” he mentioned. “It re-established the Palestinian concern because the central concern on this complete knot.”

“A lot of the world thought that it might sideline this concern,” mentioned Zonszein. “Actually the U.S. thought that. However now it is clear that it’s the key to stability within the area as an entire.”

Biden: U.S. needs two states

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden warned Israel to cease assaults by Israeli settlers — a key a part of Netanyahu’s coalition — on Palestinian civilians. Assaults have spiked this yr.

“They’re attacking Palestinians in locations that they are entitled to be, and it has to cease,” Biden mentioned. “They must be held accountable.”

Biden additionally spoke about what the U.S. needs to see after the conflict.

“When this disaster is over, there must be a imaginative and prescient of what comes subsequent,” he mentioned. “And in our view, it must be a two-state resolution.”

Neither Hamas nor Netanyahu share that imaginative and prescient.

As Netanyahu has identified, Hamas doesn’t acknowledge Israel’s proper to exist and lays declare to the entire land “from the river to the ocean.”

And simply twelve days earlier than the Hamas massacres in southern Israel, Netanyahu addressed the UN Normal Meeting, holding a map of what he referred to as “The New Center East” that confirmed the entire West Financial institution and Gaza, in addition to East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights, as components of an enlarged Israel, with no Palestinian state in sight.

Injury more likely to be lasting

There’s a widespread feeling in Israel that Netanyahu’s profession is lastly ending. A trial on severe corruption prices looms in his future.

“He is completed. It is over,” mentioned Barghouti. “The issue is that the alternate options aren’t any totally different from him in terms of any Palestinian concern. They differ with him on different issues, however in terms of Palestinians, I do not see any peace camp in Israel.”

Hamas and Netanyahu might each show more durable to remove than their enemies hope. However even when they go away the scene, the injury to the two-state resolution shouldn’t be simply undone and the present conflict doubtless will make issues worse, mentioned Zonszein.

“I am involved that the worry and the trauma and shock of what occurred is barely going to make Israelis extra fearful of Palestinians, and Palestinians extra fearful of Israelis,” she mentioned. “And also you see a variety of Israelis who’re arming themselves now with private firearms as a result of they do not belief that the military and police shall be there for them.”

A protester carries a green flag in front of a backdrop of burning tires.
A Palestinian protester with a Hamas headband carries a Hamas flag behind burning tires throughout clashes following an indication in solidarity with the Gaza Strip within the West Financial institution metropolis of Ramallah on Oct. 27, 2023. (Nasser Nasser/Related Press)

Nor will Gazans be simply reconciled to the restoration of a corrupt Palestinian Authority, particularly one seen to be using again to energy on an Israeli tank.

“It is already misplaced most of its legitimacy and credibility on the road within the West Financial institution,” mentioned Zonszein. “There have not been elections in 16 years and so they haven’t got the flexibility to manipulate even the West Financial institution, so why would anybody assume they’ve the flexibility to manipulate Gaza?”

Barghouti agreed the present Palestinian Authority and its management are at a useless finish.

“No Palestinian chief will ever have legitimacy with out free, democratic elections, and that’s true whether or not he governs Gaza or not,” he mentioned.

“However for my part, Israel shouldn’t be all for a Palestinian authorities of Gaza.”

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