Israel has had three elections in the past year. Each time, the voting has not favored incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his conservative Likud Party to be able to form a coalition government in accordance with Israel’s political system. This has put Israeli politics in a tizzy that the nation has never experienced before. Further complicating matters is that Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister of Israel, has been under federal indictment for some time on charges of bribery and corruption. His trial before Israel’s Supreme Court begins on May 24th.
Israel is a democracy that has many political parties. Its parliament, called the Knesset, has 120 members. If the dominant party in an election does not have a majority of at least 61 members in its camp after an election, it must form a coalition government that includes Knesset members of other political parties. This is done via a lot of horse trading negotiations in private between the many political parties. Many of them are religious parties that have more political clout than is reflected by the population. Thus, Israel is not like the U.S., which operates mostly as a two-party system: Democrats and Republicans.
So, Netanyahu has been trying for the third time in the past year to put together an acceptable coalition government. On Monday, his main opponent, Benny Gantz of the moderate Blue and White Party, broke the impasse by agreeing to a “national emergency government.” Netanyahu will remain Prime Minister for the next 18 months, and then Gantz will rotate to become Prime Minister. Until then, Gantz will be the Defense Minister.
Gantz said he made the agreement largely for the nation to better fight the COVID-19 virus that has been threatening the world. Yet Israel has been doing a pretty good job of that compared to other nations by having a mortality rate from the virus of about 1% of those Israelis known to have COVID-19.
Gantz surprisingly agreed that he would allow Netanyahu to proceed on June 1 this year to annex the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Netanyahu had been saying recently that he wanted to do that. Plus, U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had presented last summer a U.S. proposal for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict which he mostly engineered as an Orthodox Jew which also included annexing those West Bank Jewish settlements. But, according to UN principles and thus international law, it would be illegal for Israel to annex of the West Bank since it is declared “occupied territory” by the UN. President Trump has highly criticized the UN just as he has done with many multi-national organizations in accordance with his isolationist, America First ideology.
Gants is a former military general. He has angered many members of his Blue and White party by making this agreement with Netanyahu and Likud. His party members had expected him to replace the supposedly corrupt Netanyahu, who has now served as prime minister for 14 years.
This portion of the agreement between Gantz and Netanyahu regarding Jewish settlements, of course, will further anger and alienate Palestinian Authority leadership from any possible negotiation between it and the U.S. or Israel in solving this conflict. If Israel was to annex any of this West Bank territory, it would coincide with the solution I proposed thirty years ago in my book, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia.
Yet I have repeatedly said that I oppose a unilateral Israeli move like this. The only proper way to solve this conflict is with all the parties involved agreeing to a two-state solution. But the problem has been that the traditional two-state solution has been based on population geo-graphics.
Rather, I believe this conflict should be solved by historical precedent. The main reason is that the borders of the West Bank coincide remarkably with those of ancient Samaria-Judea, which was the heartland of ancient Israel. You can’t convince religious Israeli Jews to give up this territory.
I believe that just as Jews claimed a right to their “ancestral land” in their 1948 Proclamation of Independence, which led to war and the founding of the State of Israel, I believe Palestinians should do likewise regarding “the land of the Philistines,” from whom they derive their name. That land is the entire coastal plain south of Tel Aviv to Egypt. Kushner’s plan provides for Palestinians to establish two enclaves along the present Israeli-Egypt border which also coincides with my proposal.
So, in the past thirty years, things have continued to develop in the direction of what I claim in my book the Bible predicts–a Palestinian state as a very expanded Gaza Strip, with Israel annexing the West Bank. My map on the front cover of my book shows this.