12 Nov

Prefatory Note: This post is a slightly modified version of my Nov 62022 responses to questions posted by an Iranian journalism, Javad Heirian-Nia] 


  1. Israel’s Knesset elections ended with the victory of Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition. Many analysts believe that the cabinet headed by him will be the most right-wing cabinet in Israel. What is the effect of Netanyahu’s victory on the region?

The anti-Netanyahu political parties in Israel were united around a platform that contained few substantive changes from the policies expected to be pursued by the Netanyahu coalition. Their faulty focus was devoted almost exclusively to stopping Netanyahu from having an incredible fifth opportunity to become the next Prime Minister of the country. 

It is now generally agreed that the election results are  significant beyond this failure to block Netanyahu’s return to governing authority. What has emerged as potentially important is that Likud’s winning coalition depended on teaming up with the openly racist and exclusionary Religious Zionism Party, a political alliance of two far right religious parties that put the completion of the settler colonialist project at the top of their explicit agenda, although phrased in the language of Zionism and their understanding of ‘the promised land’ and what is meant to be truly a state of the Jewish people. It also reflected the growing strength of religious Zionism as compared to secular Zionism, and thus poses serious issues about the future character of Israel as a sovereign state.  

The alliance of these two extremist ultra-religious parties gained 14 seats in the Knesset, the third most, and emerged not only as a strategic partner in Netanyahu’s triumphal return to power, but seems likely to provide the indispensable political glue needed by Netanyahu to prevent a crash landing of his tenuous coalition in the months and years ahead. This vulnerability will make Netanyahu, a master tactician and opportunist, pragmatically responsive to the extremist priorities of these ultra-Zionist allies. If current expectations are correct the first sign forming a cabinet that includes accords important ministerial portfolios to the leaders of the two political groupings making up the Religious Zionism (RZ) Party, such notoriously Israeli political personalities as Itamar Ben Gvir, and possibly even Bezabel Smotrich. 

I think the regional impacts of these political developments will be a gradual downgrading of overt normalization diplomacy by the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Sudan, and even Morocco initiated during the Trump presidency under the banner of the Abraham Accords, continued by Biden within a less flamboyant framing as ‘normalization and peace diplomacy.’ These arrangements were significant legitimizing victories for Israel within the Arab world, the result of bargains by the highly pragmatic Arab governing elites that had long dealt with Israel on economic and security matters of joint interests covertly. Such reactions against formalizing normalization will undoubtedly take more seriously the sentiments of the outraged public opinion of Arab masses who remain overwhelmingly supportive of the Palestinian struggle for basic rights, and regard their national elites as betraying the just cause of fellow Arabs and Muslims. I expect that this Israeli election, more than previous ones, will give rise to a new wave of pro-Palestinian activism in the Islamic World, but also at the UN, and perhaps more widely, including in the Global South.

But Netanyahu’s leadership is also extremely worrisome on other grounds, especially his obsessive hostility to Iran that centers on exaggerated concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Such a belligerent approach to Iran is likely to produce Israeli militarist provocations that will increase risks of a major regional war. We should recall that Netanyahu, then also Prime Minister, was fiercely opposed to the Obama approach that resulted in the 2015 Nuclear Agreement (JCPOA). Netanyahu also exhibits a seeming willingness to take unilateral military action against Iran with the goal of disrupting if not destroying its alleged ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons once and for all, as well as supporting initiatives aimed at destabilizing the government in Tehran. 

At the same time, we can expect Netanyahu to ignore, if not renounce, the widely supported recent UN General Assembly urging Israel to give up its nuclear arsenal and abide by the inspection provisions of the Nonproliferation Treaty regime. The Resolution (A/C.1/77/L.2) adopted on October 30, 2022 by a vote of 152-5 (24 abstentions) in the First Committee of the General Assembly; of the five were unsurprisingly U.S., Israel, and Canada, joined by Palau and Micronesia. Such a resolution introduces a semblance of balance at the global level, at least, with respect to negotiations pertaining to Iran, which in the public aspects of the Vienna negotiations designed to revive the 2015 JCPOA have so far ignored the relevance of Israel’s nuclear weapons capability, which both undermines regional proliferation constraints and disregards denuclearizing imperatives.

  • Netanyahu won while the Arab League meeting emphasized the Arab peace plan. What actions may Netanyahu take to undermine the Arab peace plan?

Netanyahu’s primary concerns in the period ahead will be to gain acceptance within Israel of his rightest leadership that will probably emphasize the threats posed by Iran to Israeli security, or unity through fear. Even prior to these Israeli elections there were growing indications of discontent with the normalization diplomacy initiated by Trump and continued by Biden. For instance, the leading Israeli liberal Zionist print media platform, Haaretz editorialized: “The Israeli election dealt a grievous blow to Judaism.” In effect, Jews elected a leadership that was programmed to push this already expansionist Zionist political entity in the direction of openly embracing and strengtheningethno-nationalist values and policies, which because of Palestinian demographic presence and continuing resistance will exert strong societal pressures to introduce new ugly episodes of ethnic cleansing combined with territorial expansionism particularly in the form of futher annexationist encroachments in the occupied West Bank.

Even without the problem of a coalition dependent on the RZ, Netanyahu and the Likud Party have not the slightest intention of lending credibility to any Arab proposal for a negotiated peace, and especially one that revives the 2002 Plan put forward by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Israel public opinion seems firmly committed to the idea that there is no longer any security need to offer, even as was the case earlier, but even if only for the sake of public relations, the Palestinians national sovereignty or a meaningful form of statehood. The whole spectrum of opinion in the new Knesset lineup is to secure Jewish supremacy quickly as much of ‘the promised land’ as possible, while the world is distracted by Ukrraine, COVID, and climate change. Concretely this means accelerated settlement expansion in the West Bank, punitive occupation in Gaza, and Israeli governance and further Judaization of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. This entails increasing pressures on Palestinians by way of terminating tenuous residence rights, raising pressures to live elsewhere, preferably outside of Israel. For almost a decade it has become clear to anyone with eyes that wanted to see the realities on the ground that Israel had abandoned all pretenses nurtured by the Oslo Diplomacy to bring peace through negotiations of the parties prepared to compromise, and instead chose to rely on an imposed ‘peace’ sustained by what is now widely understood to be the Israeli apartheid state.

  • Netanyahu’s victory comes while the democratic government is at work in America and insists on the two-state solution. What will be the relationship between Israel and the US considering Netanyahu’s rise to power?

Contrary to the wording of your questions there is no U.S. ‘insistence’ on the two-state solution, only an empty rhetorical posture belied by the language of ‘strategic partnership’ highlighted in the Biden-Lapid Jerusalem Declaration of last July. If Netanyahu is openly collaborating with and dependent on religious extremists, his new indispensable allies, it will make Washington Democrats and liberal Zionists nervous and uncomfortable, gradually producing some lowering of public enthusiasm for Israel. Even this happens it will be without foreseeable policy consequences. It seems inconceivable at this point that there will be a groundswell of opposition in the U.S. calling for an abandonment of the bilateral partnership on regional security issues, including the annual $3.8 billion U.S. economic assistance given to Israel or American continuing efforts at the UN and elsewhere to shield Israeli policies and practices when it comes to  dealing with Palestinian resistance or grievances, compliance with international law, and even with its special status as a known but still undeclared nuclear weapons state. Since the outcome of the 1967 War Israel has been valued as a vital strategic asset by the U.S. Government, which is societally reinforce by the strong pro-Israeli influence wielded by such powerful domestic grouping as the AIPAC lobbying organization and Christian evangelists. 

  • Considering Netanyahu’s serious opposition to the JCPOA, how do you see the prospect of reviving the JCPOA?

I think it highly unlikely that JCPOA will be revived. The U.S. might be prepared to reach agreement with Iran absent Netanyahu’s record of opposition that goes back to its origins during the Obama presidency. Biden has strongly indicated that the domestic political costs are too high to break openly with Israel on such a crucial security issue. The power struggle for political control of the United States is at a critical phase and no mainstream liberal leader, such as Biden, is remotely likely to weaken Jewish support by openly alienating Netanyahu. Besides, even before the Israeli elections, Israeli back-channel pressures were influencing the Biden presidency to insist on unacceptable concessions from Iran. Given the background of Trump’s 2018 withdrawal and repudiation of JCPOA, coupled with the ramping up of sanctions despite Iran’s internationally verified compliance with the agreement, the U.S. from the outset approached negotiations arrogantly. If seeking agreement and hoping for normalization, the U.S. should been prepared to offer apologies and an incremental removal of sanctions rather than put forward additional conditions that needed to be satisfied before it would rejoin JCPOA. The Trump/Biden sanctions have brought prolonged economic hardship to the people of Iran in recent years, and it undoubtedly colored the Iranian approach even if it seemed not to matter to the U.S.

  • Netanyahu is Putin’s friend, and the relations between Israel and Russia are bad after the war in Ukraine. It seems that Netanyahu has to choose between America and Russia. What is your assessment?

I think there is little doubt that if such an existential choice ever were to confront Netanyahu, he would have not have a moment’s hesitation about choosing America. It is not only the years of closeness, but the U.S. is the more formidable geopolitical actor in the Middle East and the world than Russia, and massively helps Israel militarily, ideologically, and diplomatically. Besides, the Jewish presence in the United States has great leverage over foreign policy, and although somewhat less supportive of Israeli behavior than in the past, continues to regard Israel’s security and wellbeing as an unconditional commitment, ignoring and defying the apartheid consensus that has emerged in the last five years, by shamelessly continuing to include Israel in the ranks of countries governed as ‘democracies.’ 

Of course, Netanyahu would like to maintain friendship with both Russia and the United States if this can be managed. The Ukraine War, should it be further prolonged, might induce Netanyahu to side more openly with the U.S./NATO, especially in light of the difficulties arising from including the religious extremists in his governing process with their undeniable hostility to a two-state solution. Their priority is to move toward ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to complete the ultra-Zionist project of settler colonialism, which either requires the elimination of the Palestinians from Israel altogether or at minimum their complete marginalization through crushing Palestinian resistance morale. How Netanyahu handles this open departure from Washington’s two-state mantra will give hints as to his approach to other issues where pressure arises if Israel rejects the American effort to adopt a posture, however insincere, that does not explicitly reject basic Palestinian objectives. We must wait and see how this likely political drama unfolds.

Netanyahu has early tried to convey an impression that he is not captive of the RZ by indicating his continuing support for LGBTQ freedoms and rights. Whether this is a true demonstration of Netanyahu’s political independence or a symbolic marginal gesture that is to be soon offset by an unpopular implementation of the radical policy views of RZ. It is this cloud of uncertainty that hangs over what this renewed Netanyahu/Likud governance of Israel will mean for regional politics, the Palestinian people, and Israel’s standing in the world.   


  1. Ray Joseph Cormier November 12, 2022 at 7:26 pm #

    Jonathan Cook has some strong insights on the shift to the right in Israel.

    ‘Fascists in government won’t dent Western support for Israel’

    The most disturbing outcome of Israel’s general election this week was not the fact that an openly fascist party won the third-biggest tally of seats, or that it is about to become the lynchpin of the next government. It is how little will change, in Israel or abroad, as a result.

    Having Religious Zionism at the heart of government will alter the tone in which Israeli politics is conducted, making it even coarser, more thuggish and uncompromising. But it will make no difference to the ethnic supremacism that has driven Israeli policy for decades.

    Israel is not suddenly a more racist state. It is simply growing more confident about admitting its racism to the world. And the world – or at least the bit of it that arrogantly describes itself as the international community – is about to confirm that such confidence is well-founded.

    Indeed, the West’s attitude towards Israel’s next coalition government will be no different from its attitude towards the supposedly less-tainted ones that preceded it.

    In private, the Biden administration in the US has made plain to Israeli leaders its displeasure at having fascists so prominently in government, not least because their presence risks highlighting Washington’s hypocrisy and embarrassing Gulf allies. But don’t expect Washington to do anything tangible……………


    • roberthstiver November 13, 2022 at 11:23 am #

      Please permit me to match your url with this one. —

      https://newrepublic.com/article/156391/psychopath-nation-united-states-foreign-policy-interventionism (“Psychopath Nation: Why our foreign policymakers can’t quit interventionism” (Alex Pareene, The New Republic, February 10, 2020)

      It, and its content, were triggered by Dr. Falk’s analysis and my below query-cum-lament “What shall we do with these people?” I’ve been pondering “psychopathy” [disclosure: I’m no professional in the field!] for some time, and this article became a “defining moment” as to my intense displeasure regarding Israel’s malevolent behavior toward the humanity of Palestine. Ironically, Mr. Pareene’s 2-2020 discourse lays “psychopath nation” at the doorstep of the USA…but I have no doubt that it can equally be applied to Israel in its own way. Perhaps the cross-over from USA to Israel will serve to explain the “entangling alliance” between the USA and Israel that I deplore every day as it compounds the Palestinians’ torment. (“Two birds of a feather…,” you know…. )

      What shall we do with these peoples? I cannot envision any sort of feasible answer, since the psychopaths are in charge of their respective asylums…as the Palestinians suffer, and suffer, and suffer.

      • Richard Falk November 13, 2022 at 4:33 pm #

        Robert: I share these strong sentiments, and to stave off despair, try hard to imagine a brighter future,
        which i admit depends on affirming ‘the politics of impossibility.’ In solidarity, Richard

      • Ray Joseph Cormier November 14, 2022 at 1:24 pm #

        Thanks for the link Robert. Interesting reading the link within your link on Kennedy and the Coup in South Vietnam with the assassination of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

        With the US belief in it’s own exceptionalism and a Divine Mandate to remake the World in it’s own image, the US has supplanted the Jewish People as the Chosen People in our Times.

        It’s also interesting to note the Star of David is on the backside of every US Dollar.

      • Kats Fisher November 14, 2022 at 9:50 pm #

        Ray, hi. A Note:

        Earlier I was thinking that answers could be in ancient history, and specifically Ezra Chapter 9, Ezra Chapter 10, as well as Deuteronomy Chapter 7., and that it is possible that converts t0 Judaeasim B.C. as well as A.D. could have been of descendance that were from Israelites’ children that those chapters give reference to. It is fascinating that it could be a possibility, and especially fascinating it would be for the Age of the Church that that could be a possibility.

        However, Star of David / the symbols of it are of ancient religions – Solomon (just for one example) was heavily involved with ancient neighboring cults. Also, the perfumes that were used for wine or burials in Judea/Samaria came often from regions in India during these times.

        I think that Ancient Three Magi have had the best revelation / understanding of that supernatural star – and it was definitely not that what contemporarily imagery or symbolism looks like. And we learn from the Scriptures that they were in the Special Revelation, too. With that, doctrine of Maghdi (or person of Maghdi) could have real impact how we understand spiritual enlightenment of a person – but also eschatology. Could Maghdi be descendant of the King David during the Church Age in a specific point in time?

        Ancient cults, which were definitely not ancient religions /natural revelations. There were always difference between the ancient cults, and the ancient religions. In this point in time – the Greek, the Romans, and the Barbarians still have their B.C. glossolailas – and not much of the Church Age.

        History is fascinating, and future of the religious species can be promising – but human nature is selfish and greedy, and it does not allow for it.

        Still, it’s fascinating to live in the times close to the end of the age.


      • Richard Falk November 15, 2022 at 11:45 am #

        My fervent hope at age 92 is that it only the age that is in jeopardy! I fear for the species and planetary eco-system, as well.

      • Ray Joseph Cormier November 15, 2022 at 1:04 pm #

        Richard, barring Nuclear War or Environmental collapse, I hope to see you with a productive longevity surpassing Queen Elizabeth.

      • Kats Fisher November 15, 2022 at 5:47 pm #

        Dear Professor Falk,

        At least, there is a movement and consciousness that both creates species, and the planet is at risk due to irrational control, and no-responsibility by those who should be rationally responsible. But the question is how they can be made to be rationally responsible? I do not have answers for this. I do not know. What I do know is that they do have legit concerns for jurisdictions when comes to their territories, and while they do have that concern that is legit – would it be misplaced?

        It is possible that while they do have purpose and calling – and their life’s mission (as world-leaders) … they do fail because they do not know what they should be doing, at all. Would this be the case? It is possible. Humans do not have solutions for their problems – they just move along with whatever is before the day … the really believe that they have control – but they do not have it, at all. It’s something that is controlling them – and it could be evil things, all together.

        I am not into activism – but I do know that activist should be in the face of every world leader pushing for the things that really matter – and what it really means both for the humans, and creation (including the planet).

        Natural sins are real occurrences. They are for real in our point in Time.

        What I do know is this: It’s difficult to sort out the truth from the lies. We do live in the times of the strong delusions. It is important to hold on to the true things. It is important to hold on to the true pieces of any information that is available to man-kind. We can solve enormous problems that is facing contemporarily man-kind, and just by that.

        We do not argue about interpretations of the any Sacred writings – we do know how they are legitimately interpreted: in the exactly the same way that they are received and written down.

        There is enormous power and hope among these who believe even in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.



  2. Pikos Apikos November 12, 2022 at 11:52 pm #

    Reblogged this on penelopap.

  3. roberthstiver November 13, 2022 at 12:23 am #

    What shall we do with these people? They’re unlikable by any human metric.

    Thanks, Dr. Falk. You remain a beacon of rationality and objectivity.

  4. Beau Oolayforos November 15, 2022 at 12:47 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    Certainly I’m not alone in rejoicing at your clarity of thought, at 92. May you live forever.

    The only possible silver lining I can see – SO weird to have to say it – is Bibi’s friendship with Putin. Maybe it could be a moderating influence, but as you say, he knows very well where his bread is buttered.

    • Richard Falk November 17, 2022 at 9:49 am #

      And much jam added!!

      • Kats Fisher November 17, 2022 at 11:43 pm #

        Dear Professor Falk, its most likely just the jam-alone with gross amount fly-poo in it. Eventually, they will get to realize that they have been procrastinating of an unconstitutional and ecclesiastically illegitimate state.

        Judeaism in its governing would definitely have to represent all (systematically) Faith of the Jews (contemporarily Jews).

        They are imposing humiliation, embarrassment and terrorism – and are prosecuting faith of the authentic contemporary Jews.

        You can just look at some interaction between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians children, and it is definitely humiliation, and embarrassment to them that they are even just trained to do what is imposed on them to do.

        Who in the right mind would train their armed forces to do anything like that?

        Enetualy, they will have to start to listen to the Rabbi who have jurisdiction over the territory of the Holy Land.

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