Middle East & North Africa

Israel: A rogue state runs amok

22 April 2024

By Dave Stockton

Benjamin Netanyahu insists that Israeli forces will enter Rafah and ‘eliminate’ four battalions of Hamas fighters supposedly based there. This is despite the presence in the city of over 1 million displaced Palestinians. In the face of international advice not to escalate a war that has already threatened the whole region, he even boasts that he has set a date for the attack.

This contempt even for the allies who defended Israel from Iran’s recent drone and missile attack, however, is not just a product of Netanyahu’s personal priorities. It is the calculated decision of Israel’s war cabinet, the key leaders of the state and military machine. It is rooted in the sense of invulnerability the Zionist state enjoys as a result of the unconditional support it is sure it will be given by Washington.

President Biden may have felt obliged to criticise Israel’s murder of seven aid workers on 1 April, particularly because they were foreign nationals, not Palestinians, like the hundreds of other dead volunteers, but there was no condemnation of the bombing of Iran’s diplomatic buildings in Damascus on the same day.

The Israeli government ignored the criticism and then smugly welcomed Biden’s assurance of ‘ironclad defence’, which expressed the US’ real position. To underline the existing relationship of forces, and the direction of Israeli policy, the right wing national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, then announced the further confiscation of Palestinian farmlands in what the Zionists call Judaea and Samaria, that is, the illegally occupied West Bank.

War danger

There is no reason to believe the war cabinet is bluffing, or even that Biden is not committed to Israel’s defence, but there are good reasons why Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been touring the Middle East regularly since 7 October. Israel is playing a very dangerous game. Dangerous certainly in the region as a whole, but also dangerous at home.

The prospect of a regional war, potentially drawing in not only Iran but the Arab monarchies, the Gulf States and the US ally Egypt, threatens world trade through the Suez Canal and, of course, oil supplies. That weighs particularly heavily with Nato’s European member states, not all of whom are as pro-Israel as the USA.

No doubt Biden could call a halt to Israeli aggression simply by stopping supplies of arms and finance but that would destabilise Israel itself. Netanyahu’s own position is dependent on maintaining the war; without that his coalition government would collapse as the far right ministers, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich would walk out.

A governmental collapse would be likely to set off serious conflict within Israeli society itself. The well-armed fascistic settler movement could mobilise to complete the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank. Netanyahu’s political opponents, thousands of whom have been demonstrating weekly, demanding a settlement that would release hostages and led by Benny Gantz, would also mobilise, demanding immediate elections, at the very least.

Netanyahu’s calculation is likely to be that his best course is to complete the Zionist state’s genocide in Gaza and possibly take another giant step to seizing land in the West Bank. The Israeli press has already reported troop mobilisation towards the border with Gaza.

Whenever it comes, and whether or not there is any pretence of evacuation, the barbarity of such an invasion will no doubt generate huge sympathy for the Palestinians and possibly even unrest in neighbouring countries. However, the regimes in those countries are more likely to repress their citizens than fight Israel—and worldwide criticism will only reinforce the argument that all sections of Israeli society must unite behind the army.

Faced with either a horrific attack on Rafah or the spark of a regional war, the worldwide movement of solidarity with Gaza needs to go beyond protests. In the Western imperialist countries we must organise mass action extending to blockades, strikes and occupations to force our governments to cut off all arms supplies and economic links that support Israel’s genocide. In the Middle Eastern countries it will require a new revolutionary Arab Spring to break the monarchies and military dictatorships from their de facto alliance with Israel.

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