Netanyahu’s Lost Political Battle

Share this article

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

Hamas’s breach of the Israeli security system on October 7th gave pretext to the disproportionate and inhumane Israeli response in Gaza. Its focus on annihilating Gazans (be it an infant or elderly) has become the current defining feature of this historical conflict between Israel and Palestine. Israel has been on an outright war-crime spree in Gaza, under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, who is the longest-serving Israeli premier.

The Hamas attack came at a time when Netanyahu was struggling politically on the domestic front. In November 2021, he formed his government under his 6th term as Prime Minister, with the help of far-right coalition parties. However, a series of corruption charges against him compelled Netanyahu to initiate mala fide judicial reforms that enraged the Israeli public. To protect himself from conviction, he allied with the far-right and ultra-orthodox parties to initiate a judicial overhaul focusing on suppressing judicial oversight over his government. A few days before Hamas’s October 7th attack, the Israeli high court was hearing the challenge to a proposed law, which makes it harder to remove Netanyahu from office.

Amid the unfavourable political and legal circumstances, Netanyahu took the October 7th attack as an opportunity to revive and consolidate his political position. However, his quest to divert public attention from his tainted political endeavors towards the constant rhetoric of an all-out war against the Gazans has not given him the political stimulus he expected to achieve. According to Scott Ritter, former UN Weapons Inspector, and US Marine Corps Intelligence Officer, Benjamin Netanyahu was walking on thin ice politically even before October. The domestic events that have transpired since present an even grimmer political future for him. Halting normal political functioning, he established an emergency national unity government and a War Cabinet, which also comprised of opposition members. His attempt to pin the responsibility for the security breach entirely on the intelligence and military leadership drew much criticism, even from his Own War Cabinet, indicating a lack of confidence in his leadership.

Moreover, his initial rejection of accepting hostages from Hamas indicates that for him, the current conflict was more about saving his skin by keeping the stakes high in Gaza. It provided him an opportunity to continue bombing the population under the facade of crushing Hamas. His way of dealing with the hostage crisis caused uproar among the people, leading the families of the hostages to march towards his house. Given the pressure emanating from various political factions, international quarters, and the Israeli public, Netanyahu agreed to do a hostage release deal with Hamas, including a temporary truce for four days (from 24-27 November), extended for three more days. However, Netanyahu iterated to continue the war once this ‘humanitarian pause’ ends. In the meantime, violence in Israeli-occupied West Bank, and in Jerusalem continues.

After the initial rejection, his approval of this deal reflects the tightrope Netanyahu is treading politically. He is facing the heat of the disgruntled public, discontentment of his War Cabinet, and constant political attacks from his opposition due to how he navigated the ongoing conflict with Hamas. According to a recent survey, only 4% of Israelis find Netanyahu reliable. His traditional allies, political opponents, and even a pro-Netanyahu newspaper agree that he must step aside once the war ends. Thus, for Netanyahu, his political survival is attached to the continuation of his current assault on Gaza. The moment the assault ends, he would have to face the music of his domestic audience.  

Even if Netanyahu somehow survives the current turbulent phase of his political life, it would be challenging for him to defend his position once the war is over because it will not end with the victory that Israelis have been made to believe.  Netanyahu has projected an unrealistic dream of wiping out the possibility of a separate Palestinian state by adopting genocidal tendencies in Gaza focused on inducing fear and generational trauma in the people. But this will remain impossible since the idea of a separate Palestinian state would stand till the last Palestinian is breathing. This realisation of being fed false promises would strike the Israeli public more vividly once the current euphoria of the war is over. And that letdown the Israeli public faces, coupled with the prevalent discontentment for ‘Bibi’, will have a very stringent political price for him.

There is no denying that Netanyahu’s desire to escape the accountability of his corruption charges and be remembered as a war hero on the ruins of Gaza would drive him to continue bombarding the Strip once the humanitarian pause is over. Regardless of whether he remains in his seat for the remaining tenure of three years or gets desolated under pressure, he would be remembered as someone who, in his quest to gain political mileage, perpetuated the bombing of innocent children, including babies, men and women without any humanitarian consideration. All in all, his tainted political legacy would be characterised by his pursuit to attain absolute power, war fanaticism, advocacy for genocide, and dehumanisation of Palestinians.

Ajwa Hijazi is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS), Islamabad, Pakistan. She can be reached at cass.thinkers@casstt.com.

Design Credit:  Mysha Dua Salman

Recent Publications

Browse through the list of recent publications.

Operation Swift Retort: Five Years On

The nature of Indo-Pak relations has been turbulent right from the onset. Numerous events have influenced the trajectory of this bilateral relationship over time. In this regard, February 2019 stands out as both countries were on the verge of military escalation and nearly went to war, was it not for the foresight and restraint of Pakistan’s leadership.
  108 views

Read More »

3J’s in PAF’s Fighter Fleet: A Lethal Combination

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF), known for its forward-thinking approach, has consistently embraced cutting-edge technologies, boasting a fleet composed of advanced aircraft. Currently, the PAF operates two formidable ‘J series’ fighters: the JF-17 and J-10C, alongside other potent fighters like the US F-16, French Mirage, and Chinese F-7P (originally J-7) aircraft.
  930 views

Read More »

India’s Jingoistic Nationalism

A grand Hindu temple – Ram Mandir – has been inaugurated in the Indian city of Ayodhya. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, attended – or led (as he would like history books to remember) – the consecration along with other Bharatiya Janata Party stalwarts, leaders from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and even Modi’s opponents from the Congress.
  679 views

Read More »

Stay Connected

Follow and Subscribe

Join Our Newsletter
And get notified everytime we publish new content.

© 2022 CASSTT ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Developed By Team CASSTT

Contact CASS

CASS (Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies), Old Airport Road, Islamabad
+92 51 5405011
cass.thinkers@casstt.com
career@casstt.com

All views and opinions expressed or implied are those of the authors/speakers/internal and external scholars and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of CASS.