Gil Lewinsky

As Violence Spirals, a Unity Government is Needed Now

Riots in Jerusalem, riots in Haifa. Hundreds are injured. Police raid the Al Aqsa Mosque, a rarety even in the history of clashes on the Temple Mount. The situation quickly threatens to spiral out of control.

There are several root causes of the current wave of violence. Some are frustrations that stem from frictions during Ramadan. Police refused Palestinians the peace of mind to sit on the steps of Damascus Gate. There was a wave of vigilante attacks by Palestinians on Israelis and some from Israelis to Palestinians. Tomorrow is Jerusalem Day, the annual day dedicated to the 1967 reunification of the City. The day is only likely to exasperate current tensions in the current climate.

However, the root causes run deeper. While Israel has spent four election cycles debating whether we like Benjamin Netanyahu or not our fundamental reality has changed, and not for the better. Our dear ally, former US President Donald Trump is no longer president. He is now replaced with a less sympathetic Joe Biden, that while not anti-Israel, is not very pro either. The momentum under his predecessor has ground to a halt. There are no more talks of peace deals with Arab States.

If anything, and symbolic of the current reality, Arab states are beginning to stand up to Israel again. This happened a few months ago when Jordan refused Netanyahu overflight privileges to visit the United Arab Emirates. Yes, there was the whole scuffle over the crown prince’s visit to the Temple Mount; However, the cause was deeper: Jordan could get away with it. Jordan did get away with it. To this day, no Israeli leader has visited the United Arab Emirates.

Consequently, the UAE has become ever critical of Israel. There have been two denunciations lately from Abu Dhabi. News of economic deals have increasingly been overshadowed with anger from the Gulf. Bahrain also joined in vocal condemnation of Israel.

The state of affairs with Iran has also changed. With world powers negotiating with it for a return to a  nuclear accord that Israel shunned and with now reported negotiations with Saudi Arabia, Iran is in a potentially more powerful position. Increasingly it is not a question of if but when it will have the nuclear weapon to threaten us with physical annihilation.

.Under a form of government that allowed Israel to function as a state and with Trump’s backing (and to some degree Putin’s), we were safe. This is no more. Netanyahu kept us safe, but it was more the illusion of strength than his personal prowess. Four election cycles later, that strength has been eroded. In its stead is a skeleton framework with Bibi as “interim” Prime Minister as he continues to aggressively assert that only he can lead the country. Increasingly, now indicted but refusing to resign, he has alienated everyone except the Haredi and a vocal minority of the Israeli public. As the infighting continues, we become weaker and weaker.

For the good of the country, we need a government and fast. The Arabs have sensed our weakness and only an act of unity will save it. Only a government of true national unity will put us back in a position of strength to tackle the real issues facing us. The broader the better. Let us show the world that we are united beyond Bibi. With violence increasingly around us, the world, critical as usual is watching. We need to stop fighting and work together.

About the Author
Born in Israel but raised in Canada, Gil Lewinsky worked as a journalist in Jewish newspapers including the Jerusalem Post after completing a Masters degree at the Munk School of Global Affairs from the University of Toronto. He also has a LLM in International Law from Lancaster University in the UK. His past topics include a book written about the Status of Gaza under International Law soon after its conquest by Hamas in 2007. He is perhaps best known as one of two people that brought a flock of Jacob Sheep from Canada to Israel in 2016, making history. He currently works as a teacher and English public relations professional in Israel.
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