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Whatever the readings and assessments of the results of the Israeli elections of the 21st Knesset, the unquestionable truth is that Netanyahu personally was the hero of this battle, the first winner, and the invincible right-wing leader.

It is quite clear that Netanyahu is seeking to form a new right wing coalition government, what has become known as the “indictment” coalition, on the basis of “immunity in exchange for sovereignty” equation. This means that Netanyahu’s partners would provide him with a political cover when facing the legal challenges looming in his future; in return, he would achieve their quest to grab more of the Palestinian rights, especially annexing the settlements in West Bank (WB) to Israel and refusing the maximum that the “deal of the century” may provide to Palestinians.

Therefore, an extremist right-wing government is awaiting the Palestinians, which lacks any horizon of a peace settlement that would conserve the least of the Palestinian rights. Consequently, the Palestinian forces must make various preparations, and develop an appropriate strategy that not only restores stolen rights, but also that faces any plans to take what left for them and end their cause.


This assessment will try to extensively discuss the backgrounds of the Israeli elections held on 9/4/2019, their results, possible scenarios of Israeli government formation, and their possible impact on the Palestine issue.

 First: Early Elections.. Grounds, Backgrounds

On 24/12/2018, the leaders of the government coalition suddenly announced that they agreed to solve the Knesset and hold early elections, set on 9/4/2019. In this way, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who found his excuse to hold elections in the crisis of compulsory military service for ultra-Orthodox Jews, was proactive about filing a criminal indictment against him, especially that he expected a landslide victory, as most polls agreed on, and which was materialized later.

The paradox is that, several weeks before, Netanyahu himself was quite clear that Israel is “in a particularly complex security situation…In times like these, you do not overthrow a government. It’s irresponsible.”[1] He spread panic in Israel during his endeavors to convince Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked not to resign, because it would lead to bringing down the government that was clinging to a one-seat majority. He tried, along with leading religious Zionist rabbis to put pressure on Bennett and Shaked not to quit the government, fearing it would lead to early elections, for Netanyahu did not want them to be held against the background of his failed security policy in the Gaza Strip (GS) in the background.

Anyway, the rhetoric of Netanyahu and his team stressed that the main and direct reason for the Knesset dissolution is not passing the bill on the military draft of ultra-Orthodox men within the deadline set by the High Court of Justice. For the Agudat Yisrael faction in United Torah Judaism (UTJ), which is a member in the government opposed the bill, and Yesh Atid party Chairman Yair Lapid and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman withdrew their support for the contentious bill, thus failing to secure majority of votes. Previously, in July 2018, both of them voted for the bill, but when they backed down, it was inevitable that the bill would not pass, because the Haredi parties opposed it. [2]

Opposing Netanyahu’s rhetoric, there was a prevailing impression in Israel that he used the conscription crisis as a pretext to dissolve the government, and to cover the core reason, which is his pending indictment (He was actually indicted on 28/2/2019).[3] Many think that Netanyahu’s indictment is the reason why he did not hold on to his government, the survival of which he was staunchly defending few weeks prior, citing the sensitive “complex security situation,” which “turned out to be a very temporary pretext.” For Netanyahu has not worn out all his choices, did not use all his tools, did not take advantage of the January 2019 deadline advantage to overcome the obstacle (which is the deadline set by the High Court of Justice for approving the Haredim conscription bill), did not even ask for another postponement from the High Court of Justice as he has done repeatedly, and did not suggest a deal with the Haredim or a compromise, despite the fact that Ayelet Shaked had suggested many choices. [4]

In addition to the most cited reason in Israeli analyses and assessments, which is the investigation with Netanyahu, there are additional factors that helped to form an encouraging environment to hold early elections. All of these factors are opportunities that Netanyahu can invest to his own advantage:

1. Assuming that rushing into elections would prevent, or at least, make it difficult for the already weak opposition parties to unite on a consensus platform and run against Netanyahu and the Likud. They would also reduce the chances of former Israeli Chief of Staff Benny Gantz to be fully ready for strongly entering the party ring (this assessment was proved wrong later).

2. Proactively acting before Trump’s peace process plan “the deal of the century,” and it is known that Netanyahu is not enthusiastic about it. He fears that its requirements may jeopardize his political partnership with the settlers and could lead to a crack in the Likud.

3. The government was paralyzed, because Lieberman withdrew from it, while 61 Knesset members only remained.

4. Making use of the political and media momentum achieved by Operation Northern Shield to locate and destroy the tunnels that cross the borders with Lebanon.

 Second: Netanyahu’s Election Strategy

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to lead his election campaign by himself, and to steer Likud’s strategy in the next elections. Consequently, he held meetings with his party’s election team, informing them that his campaign would be divided into two phases; the first before his indictment, and the second after the indictment until elections day on 9/4/2019. He wanted his election campaign during the first phase to concentrate on the investigations against him, for in this phase he wasn’t interested in tackling the security, economy or the differences between competing camps.

For Netanyahu to follow such a strategy, there are three reasons: First, it is a preemptive move before the decision of the Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, which took place on 28/2/2019, to minimize its importance so that it wouldn’t form a dramatic change in the midst of his election campaign.

Second, claiming that the investigations against him were politicized from the start, thus delegitimizing the decision of the attorney-general, pointing out that the latter has yielded to the pressure of the police, prosecution, media and the opposition, and submitted the indictment.

Third, claiming that the suspicions against him of committing a bribery violation in Case 2000 (Talks between Netanyahu and the Yedioth Ahronoth publisher), and Case 4000 (Facilitating the merger of the two companies Bezeq and Yes, in exchange for favorable news coverage by Walla website) are not about money but rather about favorable news coverage.

After the issuance of the indictment, Netanyahu started the second phase, in which he attempted to turn the elections into a trust vote in him and his leadership. It started hours after the indictment, when Netanyahu made a televised statement repeating his defense strategy in which he would primarily convert his cases from judicial to political. His accusations pinpointed his political foes, pressuring Mandelblit into charging him to bring down the right-winged government he heads. [5]

As usual, Netanyahu casted himself as the victim of a politically orchestrated “witch-hunt” by the media, the “left,” and the judiciary and investigation organs. He tried then to ridicule the claims, especially the money bribery, saying that he received illicit gifts of champagne, cigars and others. He addressed the Israeli public saying that the attorney general has been under pressure, and that the latter is only flesh and blood.

 Third: Election Results

Netanyahu and his foes wanted the elections to be seen as a referendum on his name and his character, so it was. He came out victorious after overcoming three indictments, and the fourth was looming during the elections. He won over three army chiefs of staff supported by a fourth from outside the election race. It was an unprecedented historical victory.

Whatever the readings and assessments of the results of the Israeli elections, and no matter how much there is discrepancy in determining the gains and losses of the participants, the unquestionable truth is that Netanyahu personally was the hero of this battle, and the first winner. He pulled the political arena into a battle by holding earlier elections, while imposing their agenda and making himself their main character, and at the end, he became the invincible right-wing leader.

The election results strengthened the Likud party, headed by Netanyahu, by winning 35 seats, adding five seats to the Likud bloc of the former Knesset. However, this extra strength came at the expense of his partners in the right-wing camp, and at the expense of the strength of this camp which declined by two seats, thus having a total of 65 seats.

According to the final results, Netanyahu won his bet by gaining the “popular” legitimacy to face the “Judicial legitimacy.” And if he won this battle, his next aim is to win the war, where Netanyahu’s first and only war is the indictment against him and the trial awaiting him, which is premature to know its verdict. One can say that Netanyahu won the election battle and now has his eye on the judicial war.

The Results of the 21st Knesset Elections [6]
United Arab List and National Democratic Assembly (BALAD)

1. General Notes Based on the Elections

The major election battle was between two parties: The Likud, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu in the right-wing bloc; and Blue and White party headed by Gantz and Lapid in the opposite bloc. Out of 43 contesting lists, only 11 have won. In these elections, which were held earlier than planned by seven months, the promotions and the election campaigns between and inside the camps were harsh and vicious.

a. Netanyahu won having two major features: Likud now is the largest party (35 seats), and leading the biggest Knesset bloc (65 seats).
b. The Likud seats alone outnumber all the right-wing parties seats combined.
c. After implementing the agreement with the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Likud seats became 34, after one seat went back to the Union, whose weight went up from 5 to 6 seats, based on a pre-agreement between the two.
d. The seats of the Blue and White party outnumber those of Netanyahu’s competitor camp combined.
e. The bargaining power of the Haredi parties dramatically increased (Shas, UTJ; 16 seats), because Netanyahu cannot form a small righ-winged government without one of these two parties. In case they united, their bargaining power would dramatically increase.
f. The Haredi parties (Shas, UTJ) are more powerful than the rest of the right-winged parties, except for Likud (16 seats for Haredim vis-à-vis 15 seats for other right-winged parties).
g. The only right-winged party incapable of dismantling the pure right-winged government is the Kulanu party (4 seats).
h. A unity government can be formed of two parties (Likud and the Blue and White party).
i. The election results indicate that there are no more medium sized parties, except for the Likud and the Blue and White party, all parties are less than ten seats.
j. Three parties were born prior to the elections, but failed to pass the threshold: New Right, Zehut and Gesher.

2. The Winners and Losers

a. Netanyahu’s Victory: Netanyahu has achieved an unequivocal personal and political victory. The whole election battle was about one issue “Either with Netanyahu or against Netanyahu.” He fought the battle by himself, not only as a prime minister and defense minister, but as the one and only leader of the Likud. For he designed the election campaign of the Likud, defined its features, laid down its objectives and controlled its course, and as a result made great success. It can be said that the big results of the Likud have Netanyahu’s signature on them. And based on that, he made of himself the undisputed leader of Likud and the right, which can be seen in the following:

• He raised Likud’s power from 30 to 35 seat, despite the issuance of three indictments against him by the attorney-general.

• Netanyahu was able to reach the elections two peaks of glory: Being the leader of the largest party, and the leader of the strongest camp (65 Knesset members). Hence, he guaranteed that the Israeli president would formally ask him to form the next government.

• He gained the “popular legitimacy,” or the authorization of the masses to face the “judicial legitimacy,” and this would be his weapon when facing the awaited judicial track.

• He endured the conglomeration of all former army chiefs of staff alive. They were in the Blue and White party list (Gantz, Ya‘alon and Ashkenazi), supported by former Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz. As for Ehud Barak, he supported the Labor party, while Dan Halutz did not take any stand, and he is known for not supporting the Likud.

• He saved the religious Zionism from losing, which would have had a negative effect on the strength of the right-wing camp. He strongly urged the right-winged parties to forge an alliance that includes The Jewish Home, Tkuma, and Otzma Yehudit, which has won and entered the Knesset.

• He got rid of his two major foes, Minister Naftali Bennett and Minister Ayelet Shaked, when their new party the New Right party failed to pass the threshold. (Although this happened at the expense of the strength of the right-wing camp, and this is what narrowed the margin of maneuver to form a coalition).

• He survived the nightmare of his right-wing opponent, the leader of the Zehut party, Moshe Feiglin, who was expected to be the surprise of the elections and the one who will outweigh Netanyahu or Gantz camps. However, he was unable to pass the threshold.

• The increase in the strength of the Haredi religious parties, Shas and UTJ, which do not form an internal political challenge to Netanyahu in the right-wind camp.

• Netanyahu’s win does not alleviate from him or stop the judicial track of the corruption cases, however, it enables him to face it without having to resign, i.e., if a coalition of right-wing parties was formed, which were previously announced (except Kulanu) that Netanyahu is not obligated to resign from his prime minister post, even if a final indictment decision was taken and he was sent to trial.

b. Haredi parties are the biggest winners: Their strength increased from 13 seats in the previous Knesset to 16 in the current new one.

c. Yisrael Beitenu: Although the seats of this party did not increase, the mere fact that it survived and passed the threshold is an accomplishment. For polls didn’t expect that it would pass it. Furthermore, its biggest win is in the fact that by its five seats it can control the destiny of the government, granting it very high capability to bargain and maneuver, which already were seen during the coalition talks.

d. Union of Right-Wing Parties: The Union won passing the threshold despite Naftali Bennett departure and forming a new party. Undoubtedly, Netanyahu had made huge efforts to forge this Union. However, due to new post-election power balances, he became hostage to this Union, for it controls most of the following equation: political immunity for Netanyahu in exchange for sovereignty.

e. Blue and White Party: The Blue and White party have made remarkable accomplishment by winning this huge number of seats. Its problem remains in the fact that it could not mobilize enough allies so that the Israeli president would mandate it to form the next government. In addition, for personal and political considerations, schism and division will remain looming over the head of a white-blue party, and this gap is being worked on by figures close to Netanyahu.

f. The Collapse of the Labor Party: Clearly, the Labor party has collapsed and reached unprecedented abyss. This is due—along other things—that the party voters voted in favor of the Blue and White party, hoping it would be an alternative authority to Netanyahu and the right wing rule.

 Fourth: The Government Scenarios: Between the “Deal of the Century” and the “Indictment”

The election final results has given the Netanyahu camp a clear Knesset majority, thus naming him by the Israeli president to form the next government coalition. Now, attention is drawn to the nature and form of the coalition government, which Netanyahu announced it would be pure right-wing, i.e., a replica of the previous coalition, where the choice of a national unity government is largely excluded.

Concerning the formation of the next government coalition, there are three basic possible scenarios:

1. First Scenario: A pure right-wing government: Netanyahu has announced that he will form a governmental coalition with his normal partners who announced unanimously that they would name him to the president to form the government, and the election results allow him to do so. This coalition can be named the “indictment” coalition, because it allows Netanyahu be a prime minister while there is an indictment against him. This coalition includes the Likud, the Haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, Yisrael Beitenu headed by Avigdor Lieberman, Kulanu headed by Moshe Kahlon, and the Union of Right-Wing Parties headed Rafi Peretz. This coalition provides Netanyahu with a 65 MK majority.

This does not mean that Netanyahu’s task would be easy, because he would have to answer the demands of every party and grant them the basic ministries. So he may once more give Lieberman the Ministry of Defense, and Moshe Kahlon the Ministry of Finance, and so on and so forth.

Netanyahu’s problems are not confined to how the ministries would be distributed, rather to how to deal with the awaited “Deal of the Century.” For on one hand, he cannot refuse a plan suggested by Trump, and on the other hand, he cannot pass it dealing with a right-wing government. His only way out, is for Trump to make a generous offer, and the Palestinians would be the first to refuse it, which relieves him of the embarrassment that may occur.

2. Second Scenario: A “national unity” government: This is the first elections since 1996, in which two big parties win more than 60 seats. And the first time since 1996 that the government can be formed of only two parties. However, this does not mean that this would happen, for there are many reasons for refusing the unity government, where the obstacles for such a step are many.

After the vicious and bad elections, there are doubts and distrust between Gantz and Netanyahu, and the former made promises to the voters that they would not sit with a prime minister about whom there are serious suspicions and a high probability of three indictments, in addition, Netanyahu wants a coalition that protects him from a trial.

If the chances of such a scenario in the near future are almost nil, one cannot exclude it at a later stage as a result of political or security developments (“Deal of the century”; regional settlement; diplomatic relations with the Gulf countries; military confrontations or a war on the southern and northern borders;…), or Netanyahu surviving trial, which would pave the way to forgo the mutual red lines, and claim strategic considerations, “the country’s supreme interests” and “national security imperatives” in order to form a national unity government.

3. Third Scenario: A wide right-wing government: This is Netanyahu’s favorite, and it enforces the first scenario; but for it to happen, Netanyahu must split the Blue and White party, and make a bloc of it join the coalition. For many of the Blue and White party are right-wing, who can be tempted by governmental positions, as Netanyahu had done with Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz and Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak. This scenario is Netanyahu’s favorite, because it provides him with an expanded right-wing government, he would have wider margin of maneuvers with the coalition members, and it would make him stronger during trial and more flexible when dealing with the deal of the century.

The Most Probable Scenario:

It seems that the first scenario is the most probable, it is realistic and feasible. The odds of the second scenario are very weak if not nonexistent, unless surprises happen. Whereas the third scenario is not feasible for the time being, despite being Netanyahu’s favorite, and it strengthens the first scenario.

Therefore, it is clear that Netanyahu is heading towards forming a new right coalition, whose members, components and even priorities, he already began to prepare and even before the results of the elections came out, it is known as the “indictment” coalition. Netanyahu wants a coalition that serves him during his judicial journey, whether by making constitutional procedures to prevent his trial, or by guaranteeing his stay as prime minister and that none of its members would resign, for these would make the government collapse in case the final indictment was issued and he was tried.

In this case, Netanyahu would claim that there is no Israeli law that makes the prime minister resign in case charges were filed against him. It should be noted that forming the “indictment” coalition will not be for free, for Netanyahu will pay a price to his partners, and these would want to make gains, especially the commitment of Netanyahu’s coalition to a right-wing political agenda, especially against the Palestinians. It would include annexing the WB “partially or totally” to “Israeli sovereignty,” the settlements in WB in particular, on the basis of “immunity in exchange for sovereignty” equation.

For Netanyahu, the advantage of the “indictment” coalition has also a big disadvantage, which is in the fact that forging this alliance and maintaining it depend on the approval of each member party, and this limits Netanyahu’s margin of maneuver to zero. Consequently, he would face two basic challenges: Satisfying all his partners and answering their demands on one hand, and reconciling their conflicting and contradictory agendas, on the other hand, especially between the Haredi and the seculars concerning the relevant laws especially the Haredim conscription bill, which was the reason for the early elections. In return, the cards in Netanyahu’s hands, whether he will use them or not, are opting to form a national unity government (out of necessity), and trying to split the Blue and White party, as he had done with Kadima and the Labor party (and this is a favorite and sought after choice), or announcing that he couldn’t form a right wing government and holding the right wing parties responsible for the “disaster” of the right rule falling (suicidal choice).

 Fifth: The Impact of a Right Wing Government on the Palestinian Situation

The narrow right-wing government scenario is definitely the option Netanyahu is trying to achieve, this is what he had announced during his coalition talks. This choice reflects Netanyahu’s priorities in the next couple of months, which is his political “survival” when facing his indictments where the final ones, according to the Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, are expected before July 10th, followed by a trial then a verdict of guilty or not guilty that may take a minimum of a year.

Netanyahu realizes that his only political life insurance policy now is forming governmental coalition, named by some “indictment” coalition, whose task is to help Netanyahu by approving laws in the Knesset granting him immunity against investigation and trial. Its task may also be not resigning from Netanyahu’s government even after the final indictment was charged against him. The right-wing parties, who provided political or legal immunity, expect in return to be paid back in Palestinian currency, i.e., everything related to what is known as the core issues of disagreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA): the “Palestinian state” principle, Jerusalem, borders, return of refugees, and the settlements.

Therefore, it is clear that the impact of the new right-wing government on the Palestinian arena can be categorized into three main issues: The “deal of the century,” immunity in exchange for sovereignty, and GS.

1. The “Deal of the Century”

When discussing the expected Israeli answer in case the “deal of the century” was announced, one must first answer “what is the ‘deal of the century’? And what does it include?” However, based on the stances made by US figures involved in preparing the “deal of the century,” it is estimated in Israel that it would include “concessions” from both sides, as Trump has previously announced. This word “concessions” is worrisome to the right-wing camp in Israel, which is not willing to agree to the minimum Palestinian demands. That’s why the former right-wing government—all components included— was not encouraged to launch the “deal of the century,” rather it considered it a “guaranteed recipe” for a dispute with President Trump’s administration, and an “internal mine” that can blow up the Israeli government if Netanyahu agreed to it. This position is expected to continue with the new government, albeit more extreme.

Based on that, the next big question would be what part of the “supposed deal of the century” will Israel agree on, and what part it won’t? The answer to this question intrinsically depends on the position of the governmental coalition, which is rife with differences in many files, whereas concerning the Palestinian dossier all of the coalition components agree on the “all for nothing” principle, which is based on the “Five NOs”:

a. No independent Palestinian state in WB is accepted, not even on parts of it.
b. No dismantling or evacuation of any of the secluded or big settlements.
c. No division of Jerusalem under any circumstance.
d. No withdrawal from the Jordan Rift Valley is accepted, in case a future peace settlement happened.
e. No right of return of the Palestinians is accepted, whether partial or comprehensive, even under the title of reunion.

These “Five NOs” were expressed over and over again by the leaders, ministers, and MKs of the parties nominated to participate in Netanyahu’s government.

The structure of the expected government coalition and its position concerning the controversial political issues with the PA, lets one say that if these “Five NOs” were not approved, the Israeli implicit initial position on the “deal of the century” will be a very negative one. The minimum of this deal—assuming Netanyahu will accept it—will inevitably topple his current coalition.

The awaited narrow right-wing coalition government is expected to reject the “deal of the century” (Regardless of how unfair it is to the Palestinian side), and Netanyahu’s approval would mean his loss of the government. Furthermore, Netanyahu’s priority is clear: Maintaining a government coalition that would allow him to pass “the judiciary obstacle,” even if that meant rejecting the deal of the century, which means prices could be paid as a result of the collision with President Trump.

Thus, the big question is How will Netanyahu and his right-wing government express their opposition to the peace plan? Is his government willing to oppose it and even reject it, which would lead to a collision with the Trump administration, as had happened between Netanyahu and President Barak Obama? The sure thing is Netanyahu will do everything to preserve his right-wing coalition, and his government will do its best not to collide with Trump in particular.

Consequently, it may follow this 3-dimensional strategy: Getting help from all levels of the Israel lobby in the US to ease the pressure; claiming the inability of the Israeli government to proceed with the peace settlement plan on the pretext of the party balances inside the government and in Israeli political life; and betting on the Palestinian side that it would be the first to reject the US plan, thus Israel would take it as an excuse to avoid any negative reactions due to its own rejection.

The latter seems to be the ideal and favorite choice of Netanyahu, as it would reserve his government coalition, make him avoid colliding with Trump, and allow him to exploit the Palestinian refusal to get from Trump more “gifts” at the expense of the Palestinians, in particular “Israeli sovereignty over WB settlements.”

2. Immunity in Exchange for Sovereignty

Awaiting Netanyahu’s next government is a strategic and important issue, which is annexing wide parts of the WB (Area C) that include all settlement blocs, isolated settlements and random ones. This issue was repeatedly asserted by Netanyahu during elections, it is one of his most important promises and electoral pledges that he will seek to implement in consultation with the Trump administration. [7]

Netanyahu preemptively repeated his conditions before the “deal of the century”: Not evacuating settlements or settlers from their homes, full security control west of the Jordan river, and not dividing Jerusalem.

Israeli assessments show that Netanyahu will work on making a compromise with his government coalition, “immunity in exchange for sovereignty.” This means that the indictment would be removed in exchange for extending “Israeli sovereignty” over WB settlements, and may be within the complete Area C, which constitutes 60% of WB. [8]

3. GS

Since Netanyahu took charge in 2009, the Israeli policy towards GS has the following bases: Consolidating/entrenching the Palestinian political and geographical divide between WB and GS; continuing the dispute between Hamas and Fatah; preserving the calm on the border with the GS; and seeking to prevent and frustrate the growing combat and logistical capacity of the Palestinian resistance factions in GS. In addition, preventing the exacerbation of the humanitarian crisis in GS at all levels to avoid the explosion, which will result in a military confrontation. Israeli estimates agree that this confrontation would have high human, material and moral costs on the home front. For the Israeli approach of the GS “dilemma” is based on the fact that Israel suffers priorities’ crisis.

The Israeli priority is to confront the threats on the northern borders, and this was openly announced by Netanyahu and his prominent ministers, and was confirmed by official intelligence assessments. Israel is also constrained by option crisis while facing the resistance factions in GS. In the absence of any political and military horizon of any confrontation, and since the outcome is not guaranteed while there would be high costs and expected damage to the home front, the options are either bad or worse. This would make the cost-feasibility equation not in the interest of Israel, especially that there is no guarantee Israel’s deterrence capability would be rebuilt. [9]

The question now is, How would the Israeli approach towards GS change under the new right-wing government? And how would these changes materialize?

The strategy will not change for several important reasons, most important of which are: The new government is a replica of the previous one; the same prime minister, his principle of approach are the same, and this was clear in the latest escalation (3–6/5/2019) ;[10] and the stances of the Israeli army and the Shabak are the same, which call for avoiding confrontation and land incursion, and the need for political and economic treatment of the causes of escalation. [11]

As long as the initiative is in Israeli hands, the Israeli strategy is to avoid escalation and do what’s possible not to engage in confrontation with GS. However, it may change its strategy if there were uncontrolled new escalation rounds, whether due to a Palestinian decision or Israeli excessive use of force against GS. In this case, Israel believes that such a change would restore the Israeli deterrent force, which has eroded in recent months.

This option seems to be certain and it would be more possible in case Avigdor Lieberman was back to the Ministry of Defense, which he resigned from during the former government, in protest over being soft on GS. But it should be emphasized that Lieberman’s influence remains limited in face of Netanyahu and the security establishment, where the former believes that the interest of Israel lies in its continued adherence to the strategy adopted ten years ago, which we had previously detailed.

  Sixth: Recommendations

Removing the negative effects of the new right-wing government on the Palestinian situation, especially the three discussed issues (The “deal of the century,” annexing the settlements in WB, and GS), require the use of the possible Palestinian influence elements that would affect the relevant Israeli strategy. Price and cost must be re-introduced such that the Israeli policymakers would feel that there is a high price and cost to the grabbing of Palestinian rights policy.

Hence, the Israeli would feel that his policy is futile and costly, compelling him to answer Palestinian demands, as happened in previous Palestinian struggle milestones, or—at least—it would prevent the Israeli from exploiting Palestinian rights. This can be achieved through a number of decisions and steps, most important of which are:

1. Achieving Palestinian reconciliation and ending the political and geographical schism between WB and GS.

2. Connecting WB and GS in their confrontation with Israel, i.e., any attack in WB may be responded with an attack from GS, and vice versa. Hence, the Israeli would not be allowed to take advantage of the division and separation between the two areas.

3. Maintaining the formula of making the Israeli pay the price, that the resistance factions established since the beginning of the return marches, which rebalanced the deterrence balance.

4. Try to make the most of the Israeli consensus that it is necessary not to “sink/drown in the GS quagmire,” and to improve the economic and social conditions of the GS residents, and at all levels of life.

5. All must re-consider the Intifadah and resistance option in WB, especially the PA, at the very least as an option parallel to negotiations.

6. Stopping security coordination between the PA and Israel.

7. Support and activate the popular movement or popular Intifadah against the Israeli occupation in Jerusalem, WB and GS (the return marches).

8. Support and encourage all forms of resistance against the Israeli occupation.

9. Launching local and international media campaigns to confront the Israeli media war, which distort and change the facts.

* Al-Zaytouna Centre thanks Dr. ‘Abbas Isma‘il for authoring the original text upon which this strategic assessment was based.

[1] PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting, site of Prime Minister’s Office, 18/11/2018,; and Invoking Security Situation, Netanyahu Warns of ‘Irresponsible’ Early Elections: ‘I Have a Clear Plan,’ Haaretz newspaper, 18/11/2018,
[2] Maariv newspaper, 25/12/2018, (in Hebrew)
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Israel Hayom newspaper, 2/3/2019, (in Hebrew)
[6] Site of Central Elections Committee, 16/4/2019,
[7] Israel Hayom, 7/4/2019, (in Hebrew)
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Haaretz, 8/5/2019, (in Hebrew)
[11] Ibid.

The Arabic version of this Assessment was published on 13/5/2019

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