Naftali Bennett faces tension with Palestinians over Jerusalem issue


In less than 24 hours, new government in Israel under the leadership of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is clearly facing great challenge centering flag-waving procession planned by the Jewish nationalists through Jerusalem City. Mega-terror outfit Hamas as well as Palestinian Arabs have called for a “day of rage” against the event, while Iran reportedly has suggested Hamas to start terrorist attacks on the Israeli civilians once Naftali Bennett government gives green signal to the event.

According to political analysts, for Naftali Bennett and his government, this is truly a crucial and sensitive issue, as denial of holding the procession will prove them as unpatriotic and even cowardice, while allowing the procession would also pose grave threat to Israel’s national security.

Mega terror outfit Hamas that controls Gaza warned of the possibility of renewed hostilities if the march goes ahead, less than a month after a cease-fire ended 11 days of Palestinian and Hamas hostilities with Israeli civilians and forces.

Veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu handed over power in Israel on Monday to new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett but remained defiant as the patchwork government faced tensions with Palestinians over a planned Jewish nationalist march.

Minutes after meeting Bennett, Netanyahu repeated a pledge to topple the new government approved on Sunday by a 60-59 vote in parliament.

“It will happen sooner than you think,” Netanyahu, 71, who spent a record 12 straight years in office, said in public remarks to legislators of his right-wing Likud party.

Formation of the alliance of right-wing, centrist, left-wing and anti-Semitic Arab parties, with little in common other than a desire to unseat Netanyahu, capped coalition-building efforts after a March 23 election, Israel’s fourth poll in two years.

Instead of the traditional toasts marking Bennett’s entry into the prime minister’s office, Netanyahu held a low-key meeting there with the former defense chief, who heads the nationalist Yamina Party, to brief him on government business.

“Sour, grumpy, not stately – Trump-like until the final moment,” Yossi Verter, a political affairs commentator, wrote in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper.

Meanwhile, new government reportedly is considering a route change of the procession, while its anti-Semitic Arab coalition partners are putting pressure for cancellation of the event. According to political analysts, a route change or canceling the procession could expose the Israeli government to accusations from its right-wing opponents of giving Hamas veto power over events in Jerusalem.

Hinting a possible cancellation of the procession, Deputy Internal Security Minister Yoav Segalovitz said past governments had stopped nationalists visiting Muslim sites in times of tension.

“The main thing is to consider what’s the right thing to do at this time,” he told Israel’s Kan radio.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, to be the capital of a state they seek to establish in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Meanwhile, with new coalition government in power in Israel, which has anti-Semitic Arab nationalist party as coalition partner, Palestinians and also Hamas are already seeing it as the “best opportunity” of pressing forward their demand of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. There also are signs of President Joe Biden and his administration’s willingness of putting pressure on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government in “reaching into an immediate solution” to the crisis with Palestine and “implement two state” formula. Biden administration also is pursuing with its allies in the Middle East as well as Iran in implementing its goal of giving legitimacy to a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as the capital. There also are indications of collapse of the coalition government if Naftali Bennett disagrees with his anti-Semitic Arab coalition partners as well as several leftist-socialist parties, which also are having softer attitude towards Palestinians and even Hamas.

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