Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2848

Israel tearing itself apart over how to oppress Palestinians

The hard right coalition government is in crisis as a huge protest movement fractures the state. But, says Nick Clark, the fight is not about democracy, but the best way to maintain apartheid
Issue 2848
Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside Downing Street against Israeli apartheid and Netanyahu's government whioch is built on racist foundations set to oppress Palestinian people. Protesters are holding Palestinian flags  and Free Palestinian placards

Pro-Palestinian activists protested against Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to London last week (Picture: Socialist Worker)

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was forced to delay sweeping changes to the country’s government system following a day of strikes on Monday.

The heads of Israel’s government and the state are tearing each other apart in a row over how to defend their regime of apartheid and military occupation over Palestinians.

Israel’s main “trade union” ­federation, the Histadrut, joined hands with bosses to shut down swathes of the economy on Monday of this week. And there were huge, impromptu protests across Israel on Sunday night.

They were striking and ­protesting to defend the right wing, military occupation-loving Yoav Gallant after Netanyahu sacked him as defence minister.

Gallant—a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party—had called on him to halt his plans to transform Israel’s government system.

Netanyahu wants to push through changes that give the government more power to do as it pleases, ­without the courts interfering. He hopes this will make it easier to bring in even more terrible repressive measures to use against Palestinians.

Gallant, the Histadrut and the protesters also hate Palestinians. But they fear that Netanyahu’s changes will mean the state can no longer pretend to be a democracy. It would remove the thin cloak of legitimacy that protects its military occupation and apartheid regime.

In a speech on Sunday, Gallant called on Netanyahu to pause his changes. He spent much of the speech ­professing his love and support for the military that enforces the occupation of Palestine, and ­emphasised how right wing he is. But, he said, the row over Netanyahu’s changes threatened the unity and “security” of Israel’s apartheid state, including against Palestinian resistance.

He warned that the strength of Israel’s military was under threat as soldiers refuse to serve. Growing numbers of soldiers fear they could no longer justify carrying out war crimes if they can’t claim to be defending a “democratic” state.

Israel’s ability to maintain the occupation of Palestine is at the heart of its crisis.

No political force in Israel is willing to end its occupation of Palestine. But neither are they willing to accept Palestinians as equal citizens, who they say have to remain a repressed minority for Israel to remain a Jewish state.

Netanyahu’s answer is to bring in measures to unleash Israel’s military and settlers against the Palestinians. He is propped up in government by parties even further to his right who say they’ll bring the ­government down if he retreats.

But pushing on means casting off the claim to be a normal democratic state, which is key to how it ­justifies itself, and how the US ­justifies ­supporting it. The US spends billions of pounds ensuring Israel’s military is capable of defending the West’s interests in the Middle East.

That link is central to Israel’s ­economy. But on Monday the US warned, “democratic values have always been, and must remain, a ­hallmark of the US-Israel relationship.” It demanded that Netanyahu finds a “compromise” that is “based on popular support”.

Yet Western governments are still committed to supporting Israel. Netanyahu visited Britain last week, days after the Tory government signed an agreement to boost ­military cooperation.

Imperialism’s reckless military spiral

For his latest act of sabre‑rattling, Russian president Vladimir Putin has vowed to station nuclear weapons in Belarus. It’s an escalation, and the first time since the mid-1990s that the Russian government has stationed nuclear arms outside the country.

Putin told Russian media that the decision was akin to Western powers such as the United States, positioning its weapons in Europe.

Yet it comes just days after a visit to Moscow by Chinese president Xi Jingping, where he and Putin issued a joint statement. It read “all nuclear powers must not deploy their nuclear weapons beyond their national territories, and they must withdraw all nuclear weapons deployed abroad.” 

Both sides of the conflict in Ukraine are desperately scrabbling for more arms to prop up their side.

Last week some 17 countries in the European Union, with the addition of Norway, have promised to pour more arms into Ukraine. They agreed last week to supply the Volodymr Zelensky regime with at least one million artillery shells in the next year.

Efforts to ramp up the killing machines by both Ukraine and Russia will just mean more death and destruction for ordinary people.

Strike wave demands pay rise

Portugal is in the grip of a strike wave. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets and struck to demand better pay and pensions. Protesters also want the Socialist Party government to intervene to stop the price of food from rising further.

One protester in Lisbon last week said, “We, the workers, are the ones who produce.

“We give everything we have, and the profit is all for employers and nothing for us.”

Teachers and rail workers have been striking over wages and working conditions for over two months. Workers at the Infrastructure of Portugal, who help manage road and railway infrastructure, plan to walk out next week. And workers on budget airline company Easyjet plan to strike for three days for better pay.

Portugal’s largest union, the CGBT, has called for all workers’ wages to be raised by at least 10 percent but has not yet, called for coordinated strikes spanning different unions.

The Socialist Party government is responding to the strikes with repression. Prime minister Antonio Costa has said he will impose minimum service obligations to try and crush strikes.

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