Israel Under B. Netanyahu

By | December 22, 2021

This also contributed to the success of B. Netanyahu at the head of a far-right coalition that was clearly oriented to downsize the agreements with the PLO. Suffice it to recall, as regards the question of Jerusalem, the unilateral decisions to open an ancient tunnel under the mosques of ῾Umar and al-Aqṣā (23 September 1996), to build a Jewish quarter on the hill of Har Homa or Abu Ghneme (20 February 1997) and to extend the city limits to a number of neighboring Jewish towns (June 21, 1998).

Consequently, the requests of the White House, carried out with various diplomatic interventions and expressed in very cautious terms, did not affect Netanyahu’s delaying tactic: the political climate, due to the continuation of the settlements, their enlargement, the heavy security measures (which did not avoid, however, the repetition of attacks by Palestinian terrorism) and the failure to proceed with the relaxing measures, therefore became more and more tense, leaving fear of the interruption of the peace process.

Only in mid-October 1998 did the Clinton presidency, pressured by internal needs as well as by the need to demonstrate its commitment to peace in Palestine in order to regain authority on an international level, was able to promote a meeting to relaunch the dialogue between the parties.. The intense discussions between Clinton, ῾Arafāt and Netanyahu, with the contribution of King Ḥusayn of Jordan, which took place in the locality of Wye Plantation (Maryland), had a positive outcome with the signing on October 23, in Washington, of an agreement that established first of all, the implementation of the US proposal for the withdrawal of the Israelis from 13.1 % of the territory of the West Bank. For Israel travel information, please check

The Tel Aviv government, which had approved the document with the vote against or the abstention of many ministers, nevertheless tried to postpone its implementation. Both internally and in foreign policy, the Netanyahu ministry found itself in difficulty due to the opposition of the most intransigent elements who threatened to get out of it. Thus the first reading of the state budget was voted on November 2 by Parliament with 54 votes to 53, thanks to the passage to new positions of the Arab Democratic Party; and while the ‘hawk’ A. Sharon took over the leadership of the foreign ministry, a simultaneous negotiation was started with the ‘dove’ E. Levy for his return to the ministry. The Wye Plantation protocol was approved by Parliament only thanks to the vote of the Labor opposition, but the imminent vote, on a Labor proposal, for an advance of the parliamentary elections, also due to the threat from the National Religious Party (9 seats) to abandon the majority of Netanyahu.

On the international level, on the other hand, the risks of a break between the orientations expressed by Clinton and the intransigence of which Netanyahu was spokesperson (with risks of worsening also in relations with the American Jewish community) emerged and, despite the visit of the President Clinton in the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories (12-16 December 1998), the political situation remained tense, inducing Netanyahu (21 December) to dissolve Parliament early and call new elections.

If from the point of view of the parliamentary game, Labor appeared on several occasions to be able to recover the initiative, it must be recognized that from the ideal point of view, the intellectual currents advocating awareness, critical re-reading and of the need to redeem oneself from the mistakes of the past.

Held on May 17, 1999, the consultation, also for the withdrawal of minor candidates, saw the success in the first round of the Labor candidate Ehud Barak with about 56 % of the votes (against 43 % of Netanyahu). Moreover, the composition of Parliament remains complex, with Labor managed to contain the decline (from 34 to 26 seats) only due to the confluence in the ‘Israel is one’ list of various center-right groups that had abandoned Netanyahu, with the collapse of the Likud (from 34 to 19 seats), the increase of the Orthodox of the Shas (from 10 to17 deputies) and with the presence of a large number of small lists which confirmed the strong fragmentation of parliamentary representation. At the beginning of July, after long consultations, Barak – whose efficiency and glorious past in the army are known – presented the new government, characterized by the strong presence of the Shas, which won four important ministries, and by the absence in the coalition of Arab parties that had supported Labor during the election campaign. Of great importance, for the realization of the peace process with the Palestinians, the agreement signed in September 1999between ῾Arafāt and the Israeli prime minister who relaunched the implementation of the Wye Plantation agreements, systematically evaded by Netanyahu, accelerating the withdrawal of the Israelis from the occupied territories. However, strong friction remained on the crucial issue of Jerusalem’s destiny.

Israel Under B. Netanyahu