Outraged Israelis Demand the Ouster of Netanyahu

Reports in Western media have mainly presented the Israeli population as being solidly unifed behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli media, on the contrary, at least some of them, have given voice to the intense anger brewing at the government for having deliberately created the conditions for the renewed outbreak of war with Hamas. The following examples give the tenor.

* Dmitry Shumsky is the Goldstein Chair in the History of Zionism and the New Yishuv at Hebrew University. “Why Did Netanyahu Want to Strengthen Hamas?” is the title of an article he wrote that was published in the Oct. 11 Ha’aretz. He traces the roots of the assault “by the Islamist nationalist Falangists from the prison that is Gaza on Israeli citizens” back to the period when Benjamin Netanyahu was Prime Minister of Israel for the second time, in 2009. Since then, “Netanyahu developed and advanced a destructive, warped political doctrine that held that strengthening Hamas at the expense of the Palestinian Authority would be good for Israel. The purpose of the doctrine was to perpetuate the rift between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. That would preserve the diplomatic paralysis and forever remove the ‘danger’ of negotiations with the Palestinians over the partition of Israel into two states, on the argument that the Palestinian Authority doesn’t represent all the Palestinians”…

* In its lead editorial Oct. 8, entitled “Netanyahu Bears Responsibility for This Israel-Gaza War,” Ha’aretz charged that the current disaster “is the clear responsibility of one person: Benjamin Netanyahu”. He is accused of failing “to identify the dangers he was consciously leading Israel into when establishing a government of annexation and dispossession… while embracing a foreign policy that openly ignored the existence and rights of Palestinians.” The editorial staff points out that once Netanyahu became Prime Minister for the third time in Dec.2022, he began “overt steps taken to annex the West Bank, to carry out ethnic cleansing in parts of the Oslo-defined Area C… This also included a massive expansion of settlements and bolstering of the Jewish presence on Temple Mount, near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as boasts of an impending peace deal with the Saudis in which the Palestinians would get nothing, with open talk of a ‘second Nakba’ [the expulsion in 1948 of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their lands] in his governing coalition.”

* Shelly Yachimovich is a former chairperson of the Israeli Labor Party and former leader of the Opposition in the Knesset. She wrote in Yediot Ahronot (Oct. 10): “Netanyahu is the main culprit of the terrible disaster that is befalling us now.” She listed crimes for which he was responsible, including being guilty of “nurturing Hamas and showering it with all good things, as no leader before him had done, and all to weaken, dry up and deteriorate the Palestinian Authority and its leader, perhaps the last pragmatic and non-fundamentalist Palestinian leader with whom it was possible to reach an agreement…. Guilty of never formulating a strategy to resolve the bloody conflict with our neighbors… Netanyahu must go.”

* Sever Plocker, the senior editor of Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s largest circulation newspaper, titled his op-ed of Oct. 10 “Netanyahu and His Messianic Cohorts Must Go”. He accuses the government of failing Israel “in every way” with its “catastrophic, perverted list of priorities”, including concentrating almost entirely on controversial judicial legislation and capitulating “to the financial and political demands of its ultra-Orthodox members. The government and its prime minister had no time, will, or interest in dealing with Israel’s economy, social problems, education, health, or security. Yes, security….This disgraceful failure can lead to only one conclusion, regardless of political views: Enough! Leave!” The Netanyahu “coalition along with their enablers must go…. They should leave, their heads bowed in shame and exit the stage, the sooner the better….”

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