Israel to dissolve government to preserve apartheid

A protester raises a Palestinian flag during a demonstration in solidarity with Masafer Yatta in al-Tuwani, a village in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills, on 20 May.

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Israel is set to dissolve its government to maintain its apartheid system in the West Bank, where Palestinians have lived under military dictatorship since it was occupied in 1967.

An emergency measure applying Israeli civil law to settlers in the West Bank will expire at the end of the month after that state’s parliament failed to extend the law.

Israel has extended the emergency measures every several years since they were imposed at the outset of the occupation.

As observed by the AP news agency, “an overwhelming majority” in Israel’s parliament “support maintaining the separate systems” for Jewish settlers and Palestinians living in the West Bank.

“The main reason the bill didn’t pass was that the nationalist opposition – which strongly supports it – paradoxically refused to vote in favor in an attempt to bring down Israel’s broad-based but fragile coalition government,” AP added.

“In a similar vein, anti-settlement lawmakers voted in favor of the legislation to keep the coalition afloat.”

The Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported this week that Naftali Bennett, Israel’s prime minister, was told by the country’s attorney general “that there would be no way to pass the expiring emergency regulations.”

By calling for new elections, those regulations will be automatically extended, the paper added.

Bennet and Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign minister, agreed to vote on dissolving the government next week, stating that they had “exhausted options to stabilize” their ruling coalition.

Netanyahu staging a return

The unwieldy eight-party coalition, unstable from the beginning, is predicated on a shared opposition to Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

The vote will provide an opportunity for the return of Netanyahu, prime minister for 12 years until the formation of the current coalition last year, to the political arena.

As noted by The Electronic Intifada’s Omar Karmi, Netanyahu has been staging a comeback.

His popular Likud party is “fear mongering about how ‘Arabs are taking over,’ and is proposing to jail anyone raising the Palestinian flag, to deport the families of anyone carrying out attacks against Israelis, and strip citizenship from anyone demonstrating during war.”

Should the Knesset vote to dissolve, Lapid will become caretaker prime minister until elections are held in late October. It will be Israel’s fifth election in three years.

Bennett said that it was “not an easy moment, but we took the right decision for the State of Israel,” Haaretz reported.

The decision demonstrates how settler-colonialism is the single organizing principle of the state of Israel.

The maintenance of apartheid – a racist structure of governance that facilitates the removal of Palestinians and the theft of their land – trumps the maintenance of the ruling coalition.

Palestinians are subjugated to oppressive military rule to stamp out any opposition to colonization in the West Bank.

Masafer Yatta

While the collapse of the government dominated headlines, Israeli tanks rolled into the Masafer Yatta area of the southern West Bank on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Monday, an Israeli high court justice approved a military exercise in Masafer Yatta.
In May, the same court rubber-stamped the forced expulsion of more than 1,000 Palestinians from eight villages in the area.

If Israel carries through with the forcible transfer – a war crime – it will be one of the single largest expulsions of Palestinians since 1967.

David Mintz, one of the three justices who issued the Masafer Yatta verdict, was born in England and lives in Dolev, a settlement in the West Bank built in violation of international law.

Had the emergency regulation extending Israeli civil law to West Bank settlers expired at the end of this month, Mintz and another member of Israel’s high court, and any other Israeli attorneys living in settlements, would have lost their ability to practice law.

The exercises that the Israeli military is undertaking in Masafer Yatta will be the first in the area involving live fire in more than two decades, according to Haaretz.

During those 20 years, Palestinian residents of the area petitioned Israeli courts against approving the military’s claims to their land as it would effectively allow for their forced transfer.

Last year, Israel conducted a military drill lasting two or three days in Masafer Yatta, driving tanks next to a village’s school, clinic and mosque and damaging agricultural land and residential structures.

While the Israeli government appears stalled, the wheels of colonization and dispossession keep rolling over Palestinian land.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.