Voices of Extremism Rising in Israel ‮

  • 8 February 2009

At a time when Israel is preparing for general elections on Tuesday, all indicators show that the voice of radicalism is becoming noticeably louder in the Israeli arena against Palestinians and Arabs in general. Opinion polls show a noticeable increase in the popularity of the ultra right-wing parties that have taken an intransigent position against Arabs. At the forefront are Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Avigdor Liebermann’s “Israel Our Home” party. Liebermann views the 1948 Palestinians as a threat to Israeli security and wants to scrap their citizenship. His election campaign openly targets Palestinians in Israel and wants them to take an oath of allegiance to Israel or else the party threatens to annul their voting rights in coming elections. According to opinion polls, radicals are likely to come to power, and if they make a strong showing in the elections then the outcome could be catastrophic, be it at the security, both at the military and political levels, especially as there are many Arab-Israeli flashpoints that seem ready to explode and could lead to radicalism and instability in the whole of the Middle East.

The danger reflected in the opinion polls shows the rise of radicals in Israel, reveals that Israeli public opinion is preoccupied with security issues. For this reason, it is ready to support anyone who plays to its tunes and there is huge popular support for the savage aggression on the Gaza Strip. In the name of upholding the security of Israel many reckless actions can be committed that would receive popular support if radicals assume authority.

This information draws a grim scenario for the Middle East in times to come, particularly regarding the future of the peace process at various levels, a process that has witnessed some progress in the past—especially on the Syrian track. The Obama administration also seems to have given considerable importance to the Middle East problem by appointing a special envoy to the region. Concern about the future following Israeli elections would require the international community and the influential powers to take a different approach for dealing with the Israeli-Arab conflict that should put in more effective effort for preventing Israel and its extreme radicals from creating an explosive situation in the area, and from undoing all that has been achieved in the peace process. Matters could go back to square one and push the Middle East region back several years. Israeli radicals must not be allowed to control the security and stability equation in an area like the Middle East that is important for the whole world at strategic and economic levels. The different stages of the Arab–Israeli conflict prove that this conflict is an important source of instability, not only for the Middle East, but for the whole world as well.

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