Israel is heading for its second general election in five months after its right wing prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu failed to form a government.
The move to new elections is a setback for a US-backed “peace deal” that threatens to entrench the military occupation of Palestine.
But it is also a victory for forces that want to drag Israeli politics even further to the right.
Netanyahu has pushed the Israeli parliament—the Knesset—to call an election for 17 September.
His racist, warmongering Likud party already won a general election in April this year. But a rival even further to Netanyahu’s right scuppered his plan to cobble together a coalition government of right wing parties.
Former Israeli defence minister and leader of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party Avigdor Lieberman refused to join Netanyahu’s government.
He resigned from the previous government last year, demanding the continuation of a round of bombing against the Gaza Strip.
Lieberman said he wouldn’t join the new government unless it pushed a law to conscript more ultra-orthodox Jews into Israel’s military. That demand was seen as unacceptable to the religious parties that Netanyahu also relies on.
Israeli media commentators speculated that Lieberman is grandstanding, either to appeal to his secular nationalist supporters or to hurt Netanyahu.
In either case the debacle illustrates the dominance of the right in Israeli politics, defined by the occupation of Palestine and military support for US power in the Middle East.
Yet it is also a blow to plans by US president Donald Trump.
He wants to push through a deal—which he calls “the deal of the century”—that he hopes will get rid of the problem of the Palestinians. But he needs Netanyahu to form a government before it can be announced.
Leaked details suggest the deal will hand even more Palestinian land over to Israel.
And last week Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner—responsible for the plan—suggested Israel would keep its army on remaining Palestinian land, and that Palestinians could not govern themselves.
Trump said news of the new Israeli election was “all messed up” adding, “They should get their act together.”
He hopes that once his plan goes through he can unite Israel and Arab countries against the US’s rival Iran, which he is threatening war against.
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