This month’s escalating violence in the West Bank – in which both Israelis and Palestinians have died – is a reflection of “radical new Israeli policies”, says Max Hastings in Bloomberg. Inch by inch, Israel is moving toward “de facto annexation” of the occupied territories. This is Arab land, viewed by most of the international community as “the core of an intended Palestinian state”. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has always, at heart, wanted to absorb these lands into a “Greater Israel” – “I heard him say as much, more than four decades ago”.
Now Netanyahu leads a coalition that constitutes the “most radical right-wing government in his country’s history”. His security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, believes Palestinian-ruled Gaza, too, should “properly belong to Israel”. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is an avowed Jewish supremacist who questions whether the two million Arabs in Israel “should keep citizens’ rights, or even live there”. What’s striking is “how little the world seems to care”. The 2020 Abraham Accords normalised relations between Israel and several Arab states, showing that common economic interests are today more important than “shared Arab identity”. Washington and Europe, preoccupied with China and Ukraine, are paying less heed to the region than ever. The Israeli right will likely succeed in “forging a Greater Israel” that swallows the entire West Bank, simply because “they have the military power to do so”. Nations that “crush their enemies” often use their power to secure territorial booty. “For Israel to do likewise does not make it a worse offender than other victors, merely no better.”