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Netanyahu’s ‘Personal Agenda’ is Not Hostages

© AP Photo / Tsafrir AbayovIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018 - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.04.2024
Over the weekend, tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demand that the government hold new elections and urgently negotiate for the release of the remaining Israeli hostages. Meanwhile, the Israeli government started conscripting ultra-orthodox Jews who were previously immune, causing further divisions in Israeli society.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a “personal agenda” driving his actions in Gaza and the Israeli hostages are not a priority for him, Israeli-American anthropologist and anti-war activist Jeff Halper told Sputnik’s Fault Lines on Monday.
“[Netanyahu] has a personal agenda because the longer the war goes on, there won’t be elections. He’s very unpopular. He’s being tried, he has three different trials going on, and he can delay, delay, delay everything as long as the war goes on,” Halper explained, noting that the Israeli military has an agenda of defeating Hamas, but not necessarily recovering the hostages.
In contrast, Halper argues, for the Israeli public also supports the destruction of Hamas but saving the hostages is a much higher priority. “The disconnect between these two agendas that’s really propelling a lot of the protests.”
Earlier in the conversation, Halper noted that the protests occurring in Israel, which have been calling for ultra-orthodox Jews to be included in the country’s compulsory military service, is something Israel must do to maintain its state of “permanent warfare.”
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Halper said that the inequality that some Israelis get to skip military service has “always been an issue. But again, what’s changed now in the Israeli perspective is the fact that this isn’t simply an issue of fairness…. [It has become] really an issue of the sustainability of Israel in many ways, to the degree that it’s committed to permanent warfare.”
However, the ultimate goal of Israel is to “quietize” the “Palestinian issue” so that it can move on to normalizing relations with the Arab world.
“The Arab peoples do not want to normalize with Israel in any way,” Halper explained. “But the governments… are very interested in normalizing with Israel,” noting that Saudi Arabia had made progress towards that before the October 7 Hamas attack. Unfortunately, Halper does not believe there is a just solution for the Palestinians that Israel will accept.
“You can’t really have a just solution to the Palestinian issue because that means the end of Israel,” Halper began. “So how do we impose an apartheid regime, but sweeten it enough in terms of power for the Palestinian Authority collaborators?”
“The issue is not to resolve, certainly in a just way, the Palestinian issue, the issue is how do we quietize it?”
Halper predicted that Israel ultimately would lock Palestinians into Bantustans and then call that a state, completing the “two-state solution” on paper but not in reality.
“The point being then to present a map that looks okay, and then you have a collaborationist Palestinian leadership that says ‘okay, you know what, we can live with this,’” Halper envisioned. “Then there’s so many interests against this that the Palestinians can’t resist anymore because they’re not seen as having justification since more or less, the issue has been settled.”
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