The composition of the new Israeli government sworn in on December 29, and the share obtained by the most radical parties ever represented in the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), highlight an unprecedented evolution of the Jewish state. While the illiberal and reactionary shift that emerged from the ballot box concerns only the Israelis themselves, the same cannot be said of the desire to dominate the Palestinian territories, which is the other key issue for this government. The vision is no longer that of two states, but that of an annexation fraught with great peril.
More than 50 years after the conquest of Gaza and the West Bank by force, the Israeli military regime there can no longer be considered a temporary occupation. In half a century, regardless of a failing Palestinian authority, this state of exception has continued to be refined as the Israeli authorities have facilitated the settlement of Jewish Israeli citizens within these conquered territories, in violation of international law.
In recent months, there have been heated protests against the use of the term “apartheid” by human rights organizations to describe the system to which Palestinians are subjected. Israel’s defenders are used to this activism, especially as the battle is not only semantic, given its potential legal implications for the International Criminal Court, which is investigating crimes committed in these territories.
The strength of this reaction cannot mask the only reality that counts, and which should provoke the only acceptable indignation: a regime is allocating different rights on the same land to different populations defined by ethnic criteria. While the Palestinians are locked up in enclaves at the whim of the occupier, a specific legal framework that benefits only Israelis of the Jewish faith guarantees the continuity between the state recognized by the international community and these occupied lands. This state of affairs is the consequence of the strategy that leads to annexation.
Israel’s allies have resigned themselves to this situation, as have many Arab countries, which normalized their relations with the Jewish state without batting an eyelid. But this does not detract from the monstrosity that has been created, as illustrated by the systematic expropriation of land, the lack of freedom of movement and the use of unequal violence with complete impunity, among other things. The withdrawal from Gaza has never prevented Israel from exerting ruthless pressure on its inhabitants, as shown by the inhuman blockade imposed on this suffering territory.
To sustain this domination over the entire territorial area stretching from the Mediterranean to the border with Jordan comes at a political and diplomatic price. Israel’s democratic nature is becoming an illusion. The 5 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are subjected to a regime that governs every detail of their lives.
The issue also concerns the Western allies of the Jewish state. They have long exalted common values to hide their failures to act on matters related to Palestine, but these principles are nowhere to be found. They should therefore not be surprised that they arouse the indifference of a part of the world when they call, elsewhere, for the respect of the rights of peoples.