UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed (ABZ), is the latest world leader to express concern over the growing influence of the far-right in Israeli politics. The likes of Itamar Ben Gvir, who brandished a gun threatening to shoot Palestinians and Bezalel Smotrich, are expected to double their seats in November’s Israeli election. The likely prospect of a coalition government which includes devotees of the Jewish supremacist ideology of Kahanism, has raised concern around the world, including the US and UK.
ABZ raised his concern with opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. The former Prime Minister will need the support of Jewish Power party leader, Ben Gvir, and his political partner, Smotrich, in order to form a government if his right-wing bloc wins a 61-seat majority in the Knesset. Details of the meeting were revealed by Axios’s Barak Ravid.
During his visit to Israel last month, ABZ met Netanyahu and spoke to him for more than two hours, according to the sources briefed on the meeting. One of the main issues discussed was the upcoming elections. The Emirati Foreign Minister is reported to have told Netanyahu that he was concerned about politicians with radical right extremist views and rhetoric could be included in a new Israeli government.
Axios mentioned a second source briefed on the meeting who claimed that ABZ’s message seemed to signal that the inclusion of radical right-wing elements in the government could influence the bilateral relationship. The two countries signed the so-called Abraham Accords while Netanyahu was Prime Minister.
Both Ben Gvir and Smotrich are Knesset members right now and, when their two parties ran together in last year’s election, they won six seats. That was a record for the far right, yet on Tuesday two separate polls projected they would double the tally. Israel’s Channel 11 and Channel 12 say the alliance could take 14 seats, comfortably making it the third-largest bloc in the Knesset.
Though described as a far-right extremist, Ben Gvir and Smotrich represent a dominant current within Zionism. Their influence, and that of the racist ideology of Kahanism, which they subscribe to, has been mainstreamed in Israeli society. This presents a major dilemma for pro-Israeli groups in the US and the West, in general. For decades, governments in Washington and European capitals have played down the inherent racism of Zionism to maintain their unquestioned support for the Apartheid State.
Advocates of Israel are sweating over the prospect of a Netanyahu government. The Likud leader is Israel’s longest serving prime minister and hails from a Zionist tradition that has much in common with the anti-Palestinian far-right extremists in Israel.
A week ago, Jewish News raised the prospect of a far-right coalition and asked “Is this the Israel UK Jews want?” The editorial warned that “It is a danger too great for UK Jewry to ignore”. Apparently, the vast majority of British Jews are repulsed by the brand of politics advocated by Ben Gvir and Smotrich. “It is tragic enough that they hold seats in the most vibrant chamber of democracy in the Middle East, the Israeli Knesset. Worse is that their bloc’s electoral surge could equip them with real power,” said the article.