Netanyahu Promoting Armed Intifada in West Bank

By satisfying an extremist religious constituency, Ramzy Baroud says the prime minister is turning Israel into a country with leaders determined to institute a religious war. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, with the Likud Party’s May Golan in the Knesset on Jan. 23. (Danny Shem-Tov, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud
MintPress News

After signing a military decree on May 18, allowing illegal Israeli Jewish settlers to reclaim the abandoned Homesh settlement located in the northern Occupied West Bank, the Israeli government has informed the Biden administration it will not turn the area into a new settlement.

The latter revelation was reported by Axios on May 23. This contradiction is hardly surprising. While Israel’s far-right ministers, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, know precisely what they want, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to perform an impossible political act: he wants to fulfill all the wishes of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, but without veering off the U.S. political agenda in the Middle East, and without creating the circumstances that could eventually topple the Palestinian Authority.

Moreover, Netanyahu wants to normalize with Arab governments while continuing to colonize Palestine, expand settlements and have complete control over Al-Aqsa Mosque and other Palestinian Muslim and Christian holy shrines.

Worse still, he wants, per the insistence of Ben-Gvir and his extremist religious constituency, to repopulate Homesh and create new outposts while avoiding an all-out armed rebellion in the West Bank.

Oct. 3, 2013: The lands of the village Burqua, once taken over by the Israeli settlement of Homesh, returned 35 years later. (Yossi Gurvitz, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Concurrently, Netanyahu wants good relations with the Arabs and Muslims while constantly humiliating, oppressing and killing Arabs and Muslims.

Indeed, such a feat is virtually impossible.

Netanyahu is not a novice politician who is failing at appeasing all his target audiences simultaneously. He is a right-wing ideologue who uses the Zionist ideology and religion as the foundation of his political agenda. Anywhere else, especially in the Western world, Netanyahu would have been perceived to be a far-right politician.

Diplomatic Engagement 

One of the reasons that the West is yet to brand Netanyahu as such is that if there is a general agreement that Netanyahu is an affront to democracy, it would be difficult to engage with him diplomatically.

While the likes of Italy’s far-right government of Giorgia Meloni hosted Netanyahu last March, U.S. President Joe Biden is yet to meet the Israeli leader in person, months after the latter composed his latest government of far-right religionists.

Netanyahu is aware of all these challenges and that his country’s reputation, even among allies, is in tatters. The Israeli leader, however, is determined to persevere for his own sake.

It took five elections in four years for Netanyahu to assemble a relatively stable government. New elections carry risks, as the opposition leader, Yair Lapid, is slated to win a majority of seats if a sixth election is held.

But satisfying Ben-Gvir and others is turning Israel into a country governed by populist, nationalist leaders determined  to institute a religious war. Judging by the evidence on the ground, they might get what they want.

Itamar Ben-Gvir and radical right political activist Bentzi Gopstein in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem in February 2022. (CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The truth is neither Ben-Gvir nor Smotrich has Netanyahu’s political savvy or experience. Rather, they are the political equivalent of bulls in a China shop. They want to sow the seeds of chaos and use the mayhem to further their agenda: more illegal settlements, more ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and, ultimately, a religious war.

Due to these pressures, Netanyahu, with an expansionist agenda of his own, is unable to follow a clear blueprint regarding how to fully annex large parts of the West Bank and render Palestinians permanently stateless.

He cannot develop and maintain a consistent strategy because his allies have a strategy of their own. And, unlike Netanyahu, they care little for overstepping their boundaries with Washington, Brussels, Cairo or Amman.

Balancing Act

This must be frustrating for Netanyahu, who, through over 15 years in office, has developed an effective strategy based on several equilibriums. While slowly colonizing the West Bank and maintaining a siege and occasional wars in Gaza, he also learned to feign the language of peace and reconciliation internationally.

Though he had his own troubles with Washington in the past, Netanyahu often prevailed, with the support of the U.S. Congress. And though he provoked Arab, Muslim and African countries on numerous occasions, he still managed to normalize ties with many of them.

Sept. 15, 2020: From left: UAE’s Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zay and
U.S. President Donald Trump during the signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords. (White House, Joyce N. Boghosian)

His was a winning strategy, which he bragged about shamelessly at every election campaign. But it seems that the party is finally over.

[Related: What Netanyahu Really Thinks]

Netanyahu’s new political agenda is now motivated by a single objective: his own survival or, rather, that of his family, several members of which are implicated by charges of corruption and nepotism.

If the current Israeli government collapses under the weight of its own contradictions and extremism, it would be nearly impossible for Netanyahu to recover his position. If far-right parties abandon Netanyahu’s Likud, Israel will sink even deeper into a seemingly unending political crisis and social turmoil.

For now, Netanyahu will have to stay the course — that of unprovoked wars, deadly raids on the West Bank, attacks on holy shrines, repopulating or establishing new illegal settlements, allowing armed settlers to unleash daily violence against Palestinians and so on, regardless of the consequences of these actions.

Armed Rebellion

One of these consequences is widening the armed rebellion to reach the rest of the Occupied West Bank.

For a few years now, armed struggle phenomenon has been growing across the West Bank. In areas like Nablus and Jenin, armed Resistance groups have grown in power to the point that the PA is left with little control over these regions.

El-Funoun, a Palestinian folk dance troupe, performing a satire of the Palestinians’ plight in July 2007. One gravestone shows the number of victims of the second intifada; behind the tombs are the remains of the phrase “national unity.” (glichfield, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

This phenomenon is also an outcome of the lack of a true Palestinian leadership that invests more in representing and protecting Palestinians against Israeli violence than engaging in ‘security coordination’ with the Israeli military.

Now that Ben-Gvir and Smotrich’s followers are wreaking havoc in the West Bank in the absence of any protection for Palestinian civilians, Palestinian fighters are adopting the role of protectors. The Lions’ Den is a direct manifestation of this reality.

For Palestinians, armed resistance is a natural response to military occupation, apartheid and settler violence. It is not a political strategy per se. For Israel, however, violence is a strategy.

For Netanyahu, the frequent deadly raids on Palestinian towns and refugee camps translate into political assets that allow him to keep his extremist supporters happy. But this is short-term thinking.

If Israel’s unchecked violence continues, the West Bank could soon find itself in an all-out military uprising against Israel and an open rebellion against the PA.

Then, no magic trick or balancing act by Netanyahu can possibly control the outcomes.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is

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The views expressed are solely those of the authors and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


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11 comments for “Netanyahu Promoting Armed Intifada in West Bank

  1. robert e williamson jr
    June 8, 2023 at 16:35

    Assuming my last attempted comment gets posted I would like to point out that the return on that two million dollar suitcase investment has had quite a large return since that day in 1948 on that campaign train.

    Seems to me that the billions given to the corrupt government of Israel since then by the U.S. government speaks volumes about where presidential campaign funds come from and the influence gained by what shuld be considered criminal activity.

    Thanks CN

  2. robert e williamson jr
    June 8, 2023 at 15:47

    R Wilson:

    Yer Sir, I couldn’t agree more. Other than I feel it is not “some Zionists” but the predominate majority of Zionists. Possibly the most foul of all of them are the American Zionists who would sell out this country at every turn to promoted their cause. These naturally would be the most wealthy American Zionists who have the most power by way of their wealth, “power coupons”, the almighty U.S. dollar.

    The story Gore Vidal provides in the first paragraph of his Forward to the First Printing located at the URL your provided says it all. ” . . . two million dollars in a suitcase . . . “!

    Two put that into perspective, Richard Rhodes, in his blockbuster The Making of the Atomic Bomb, makes the claim that by the end of the war the U.S. had spent $2.2 billion on the bomb effort.

    The point? Let me take the liberty to present present the the story in that first paragraph. I’m pretty sure neither JFK or Gore Vidal would mind!

    “Sometime in the late 1950’s, that world-class gossip and occasional historian, John F. Kennedy, told me how, in 1948, Harry S. Truman had been pretty much abandoned by everyone when he came to run for president. Then an American Zionist brought him two million dollars in cash, in a suitcase, aboard his whistle-stop campaign train. ‘That’s why the recognition of Israel was rushed through so fast.’ As neither Jack or I was an antisemite (unlike his father and my grandfather ) we just took this to be another funny story about Truman and the serene corruption of American politics.”

    The Zionist actions speak for themselves.

    Thanks CN

  3. June 7, 2023 at 22:32

    Interesting analysis of a situation akin to a lit fuse blowing in a wind inside a storage building for powder kegs.

  4. CaseyG
    June 7, 2023 at 21:27

    Mark Twain once said ” Every man over 40 is responsible for his own face.”

    How true, how true. When I see that Netanyahu face, I see a devious mind , although still showing a somewhat human face—but one totally lacking in humanity

  5. Vera Gottlieb
    June 7, 2023 at 10:36

    One day there will be a very steep price to pay for this.

  6. Brent
    June 6, 2023 at 22:59

    In 1988 Israel sold guns to Hamas. In 2004 Hamas founder, Sheik Yassin, offered Israel a 40-year stand down, to allow matters to sort themselves out, he had a week to live. Rifles serve Netanyahu’s path forward.

  7. RWilson
    June 6, 2023 at 20:56

    Religious war is a means to the messianic goal of some Zionists. In their conquest of Palestine they see themselves as gloriously re-living bloody battles from the Bible. They believe they have God’s permission to slaughter and rob “Others”.

    The roots of this view of morality are explained by Jewish Israeli scholar Israel Shahak. His informative book Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years is available as a free download here.

  8. Valerie
    June 6, 2023 at 18:19

    The photo of Sept 15th 2020 prompted me to remember this:

    “Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) announced on Tuesday that the train station for the underground rail system nearing completion will have an auspiciously named final stop at the Western Wall:  the Donald J. Trump Station.” 2017.

    The end of the line eh? donald dump station.

  9. Charles
    June 6, 2023 at 17:10

    Netanyahu is a shrewd politican. He is not to be trusted. Those who do are foolish

  10. Robert Sinuhe
    June 6, 2023 at 15:27

    War, you say? That word warms the cockles of the heart of the Americans. Billions were sent to Ukraine to help that country. Why not send even more billions to the Israelis to start theirs. Never mind the reasons.

    • Helga I. Fellay
      June 7, 2023 at 11:14

      That has been happening all along, for a very long time.

Comments are closed.