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Netanyahu’s personal interests a big hurdle in the already difficult path to peace

By Bharat Dogra 

History is not created just by powerful persons, but in certain situations the actions or plans of some of them may acquire critical importance for some time. This appears to be very applicable in the case of the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu in recent times. Unfortunately his influence has been exerted in the wrong direction of aggravating problems rather than resolving them, which is in conformity with his generally aggressive tendencies. Looking ahead, it is even more disturbing that his personal interests, as well as actions and plans guided by these interests, may become a big hurdle in the already difficult path to peace.
This is very distressing and unfortunate, as peace in this part of the world is one of the biggest needs of the world today, both for preventing massive distress and for preventing many sided possibilities of escalation which can threaten world peace.
Over 99% of the world’s people may desire peace now in this region of great importance, but the question is whether Netanyahu, with all his power to influence the course of events at this critical juncture, is among them. Unfortunately, again, the answer according to all available evidence is in the negative. Thus is not to say that he will never want peace, but for him the hour of peace is still distant, the time uncertain. Meanwhile, as he has in fact stated, war is likely to continue for several more months.
During the course of the next few months it may escalate in intended or unintended ways and each day of war is likely to bring more death and distress.
As is well known, before the present phase of the conflict started with the horrible Hamas attack on October 7 2023, Netanyahu was in all sorts of domestic problems and these may have increased more recently with the Supreme Court rejecting his judicial reforms. Netanyahu can face the prospect of not just losing his top job but, some say, there are even possibilities of his imprisonment.
In addition there is immense, and understandable, anguish among the Israeli people over the astounding extent of intelligence failure which is the subject of a lot of agitated discussion. This has also led to questions regarding the earlier support provided to Hamas in which Netanyahu had the most important role.
A former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert recently told Politico (see report by Jamie Detmer—Our warnings on Hamas were ignored…)—“In the last 15 years, Israel did everything to downgrade the Palestinian Authority (PA) and to boost Hamas. Gaza was on the brink of collapse because they had no resources, they had no money, and the PA refused to give Hamas any money. Bibi saved them. Bibi made a deal with Qatar and they started to move millions and millions of dollars to Gaza.”
It must be obvious that if by a sudden turn of favorable events immediate ceasefire and peace become a real possibility, then this may not be to the liking of Netanyahu at all as this will force him to face a barrage of very inconvenient questions relating to his ongoing domestic issues, the shocking intelligence failure relating to the Hamas attack of October 7 and the earlier record of helping Hamas in several ways. This questioning may ultimately lead to Netanyahu even being imprisoned, preceded by the fall of his uneasy coalition government. In fact appeasement of those extreme right wing elements of his coalition who are known to be even more aggressive than him is another factor that may lead Netanyahu to reject any possibilities of very early peace in favor of continuing, possibly escalating conflict for some time.
The ideal situation for Mr. Netanyahu would be to agree to ceasefire and peace only when he has achieved glory, as defined by him, by achieving what he and his aggressive associates consider to be very important strategic and economic gains, possibly on more than one fronts, as in their thinking this will strengthen their domestic position in such a way that they will get away without being troubled too much by a mountain of inconvenient questions that have been accumulating. In this, from their point of view ideal scheme of things, Mr. Netanyahu or his very close followers will continue to retain the top positions in Israel for some more years.
If these ambitions of Netanyahu and his close associates are to be realized, they will necessarily have to get huge support from the USA and its western allies. This is the USA presidential election year and the powerful Israeli lobby there will of course be very active. In addition elections for Britain and the European Parliament are also scheduled this year.
Some may consider this to be just a case of any ambitious, scheming, powerful politician following his self-interest, but they should not forget that in the process of this very massive distress including tens of thousands very painful deaths can be caused, and in addition wider regional and even world peace can be threatened in very dangerous ways.
The obvious response of all the forces of peace should be to clearly recognize the dangers ahead and to further increase and strengthen their efforts for peace, emphasizing the overwhelming need just now for immediate ceasefire and cessation of all hostilities.
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The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include “Planet in Peril”, “Protecting Earth for Children”, “Man over Machine” and “A Day in 2071”

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