Op-Ed: Netanyahu’s return to power with a coalition of racists is appalling. But Israel’s problem runs deeper than the right wing’s racism
The Israeli prime minister has a habit of making public pronouncements without the slightest sense of irony. In the past, he has gone on about “unbreakable partnership” with Hamas and then announced that that partnership was now “unbreakable.” Recently he announced that Israel’s security cooperation with Muslim Brotherhood member Egypt was “unbreakable.”
All this was supposed to be a joke — but not really.
On Saturday, Haaretz reported, Israel’s parliament will vote on a bill that would allow Israeli soldiers to shoot Palestinian demonstrators at a distance up to 300 meters with live fire (the actual distance is about 200 meters). The law would also allow troops to shoot protesters at a distance of 600 meters.
The decision followed a dramatic escalation in violence that began in March, when rioters attacked soldiers in the south Hebron district. Soldiers shot dead a Palestinian who had killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl, then stormed the district itself. The troops killed 11 Palestinians.
But the violence has since escalated again, and now the prime minister can boast about a “return to normalcy.”
Netanyahu, however, has a lot to answer for.
The first problem is that the government’s policies have led to a dramatic escalation in the level of violence in the south Hebron district. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 2,569 Palestinians have been killed in 2016, an average of about 60 killed per day. The Israeli health ministry says there have been 5,814 Palestinians killed in 2016, an average of about 150 killed a day.
The Israeli government has done very little to stop the violence; the prime minister has not vetoed an Israeli law that would have given a military order to fire at Palestinian demonstrators. The policy, known as “right of return,” would have allowed hundreds