Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Gantz (pictured above) had recently boasted about sending "parts of Gaza back to the Stone Age." (Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Gantz (pictured above) had recently boasted about sending "parts of Gaza back to the Stone Age." (Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Netanyahu on Steroids: What a Gantz-led Government Means for Palestine

For Gantz, war is the answer, as indicated by one of his campaign slogans, "Only the strong survive."

Ramzy Baroud

Experience has taught Palestinians not to pay heed to Israeli elections. But to every rule there is an exception. 

Although it is still true that no Israeli Zionist leader has ever been kind to the Palestinian people, the dynamics of the latest Israeli elections on September 17 are likely to affect the Occupied Palestinian Territories in a profound way. 

Indeed, the outcome of the elections seems to have ushered in a new age in Israel, ideologically and politically. But the same claim can also be made regarding its potential influence on Palestinians, who should now brace themselves for war in Gaza and annexation in the West Bank. 

Former chief of general staff of the Israeli army, Benny Gantz, who had orchestrated the destructive war on the besieged Gaza Strip in 2014, is likely to be tasked with the job of forming Israel’s new government. Gantz had recently boasted about sending “parts of Gaza back to the Stone Age”. 

When it comes to war, Gantz is Netanyahu on steroids.

There is little discussion in Israeli, and, by extension, western media of Gantz’s numerous war crimes during the Gaza war. The focus is mainly placed on the fact that he seems to have finally dislodged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from a position he had held for nearly 13 years, a scenario that was, until recently, deemed inconceivable.  

The leader of the Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) party had plotted the ouster of Netanyahu back in January 2018, when he formed the Israeli Resilience Party. Following several political mergers and a strong showing in the previous elections in April, the centrist politician has finally edged past Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party in the most recent elections. 

With 33 seats in the Israeli Knesset - compared to Likud’s 31 seats - Gantz now needs a broad coalition to rule Israel. The vehemently anti-Palestinian politician has made it clear that he will not enter into a coalition with the Joint List, the alliance of various Palestinian Arab political parties. The latter has managed to achieve an outstanding 13 seats, making it the third largest political force in Israel. 

But, according to Gantz’s previous statements, the inclusion of Arab parties in the coalition is out of the question, despite the fact that Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List, had indicated his willingness to join a Gantz-led government. 

It is now likely that Gantz will seek a coalition government that includes the Likud, along with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu. The country’s former ultra-nationalist defense minister, Lieberman, with 8 seats, has restored his previous “kingmaker” status. He, too, is keen on such a coalition. Gantz is open to such a scenario, with one condition: Netanyahu should stay out. 

While the “king of Israel” has finally been dethroned, however, Palestinians have little to rejoice over. True, Netanyahu has destroyed any chance of a just peace in Palestine through the entrenching of the illegal military occupation and inhumane siege of the West Bank and Gaza. However, future possibilities are equally, if not even more, grim. 

Once upon a time, outright discussion of annexing large parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories were relegated to the margins of Israel’s political discourse. This is no longer the case. The call for annexing major illegal settlement blocs, along with the Jordan Valley, is now a common demand made by all of Israel's main political parties, including Gantz’s own. 

Gantz, possibly Israel’s next prime minister, has repeatedly made it clear that he would be strengthening, rather than dismantling, the illegal settlements in the West Bank, and has even attempted to take ownership of Netanyahu’s pledge to annex the Jordan Valley. 

“We are happy that the Prime Minister has come around to adopt the Blue and White plan to recognize the Jordan valley,” Gantz’s party said in a statement shortly before election day. 

The annexation of these areas would amount to illegally seizing more than 60 percent of the West Bank. 

Given that Israel has successively normalized the concept of annexation in its own, political discourse, and that it has already received an American nod on the matter, it is then a matter of time before such a step takes place. 

The likelihood of it taking place sooner than later is that a broad, center-right-ultranationalist coalition would serve as an insurance to Israel’s leadership, in case of a political or security fallout once the decision is taken and enforced. 

That political insurance simply means that no single party or official would bear the blame or shoulder the consequences alone, should Palestinians rebel or the international community push back against the flagrant Israeli violation of international law. 

The same logic is applicable to the case of a future war on Gaza. 

Israel has been itching for a major military campaign in Gaza since its last onslaught of 2014. Since then, Gaza has been bombed numerous times, and hundreds of innocent lives have been lost. But Netanyahu steered clear of an all-out war, fearing a high death toll among his soldiers and the blame game that often follows such military misadventures. 

Mandated by a large coalition, bringing together Israeli army generals, right-wing politicians and ideologues, Gantz would feel far more empowered to go to war, especially since the former military chief has repeatedly accused Netanyahu of being “weak” on Gaza, “terrorism” and security. 

If a future war goes as planned, Gantz would be happy to claim the accolades of victory; if it does not, due to Gaza’s stiff resistance, the political damage is likely to remain minimal. 

When it comes to war, Gantz is Netanyahu on steroids. He has participated, orchestrated or led many military campaigns, including ones aimed at suppressing any resistance in Gaza, in Lebanon and during the previous popular uprisings. 

For Gantz, war is the answer, as indicated by one of his campaign slogans, “Only the strong survive.”

While it is typical, and understandable, to dismiss all Israeli governments as one and the same, a Gantz-led government will possess the needed political legitimacy, popular mandate and strategic tools to achieve a job that Netanyahu himself couldn’t finish: a war on Gaza, and annexation of the West Bank.


Ramzy Baroud

Ramzy Baroud

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of the Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books including: "These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons" (2019), "My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story" (2010) and "The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle" (2006). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

In Raid of Trump Home, FBI Was Seeking Classified Nuclear Weapons Documents

"The criminal who stole top secret nuclear documents is the same one who had absolute authority to order a nuclear attack at any time."

Jake Johnson ·


Docs Show DHS Watchdog Delayed Telling Congress About Deleted Secret Service Texts

The Project on Government Oversight says the records reveal a pattern of Inspector General Joseph Cuffari "rejecting proposals to inform Congress about the Secret Service's resistance to oversight."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Dictatorship Never Again': Massive Pro-Democracy Protests Sweep Brazil

"Democracy involves changing the government and eliminating neo-fascism," said one prominent protester, "but above all, ensuring that the working class, the people, have the rights guaranteed in the Constitution."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Door to Real Progress': Jayapal Makes Case for House Passage of the IRA

"It's an achievement we can all feel excited about—especially when we dig into the details," said the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Julia Conley ·


Officers Kill Gunman Who Tried to Breach FBI Office in Ohio

Though the suspect's identity and potential motivations are not known, the attack follows fear of far-right retaliation for this week's federal search of former President Donald Trump's home.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo