netanyahu knesset
© Agence France-Presse / Gali Tibbon
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a meeting of the right-wing bloc at the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem on November 20, 2019.
Even if Benjamin Netanyahu leaves Israel's political arena, peace is nowhere near, believes a Palestinian expert. Not only because Israel hasn't produced a visionary but also because Palestinians are too mired into their own political mess that they cannot concentrate on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has 30 days to ask for immunity from the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, that would protect him from facing a trial.

The premier is accused of accepting illegal gifts from a rich donor and buying himself positive press in exchange for tax evasion - allegations that Netanyahu denies.

No Alternative

But Hani al-Masri, a director-general of Masarat, the Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies based in Ramallah, says Netanyahu's potential trial is not a reason to celebrate.

"Netanyahu is a dangerous and an extreme man but he won't leave without a battle. He is strong in the Likud and even plans to run in the next round of the general vote," he said over the phone, referring to the elections that can take place as early as in February 2020.

Yet, al-Masri, who's been following Israeli politics for years, believes that another round of elections will not lead to progress in the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, simply because Israel's current political map doesn't have a leader who would seek peace and who would want to make a difference.
netanyahu gantz
© Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Israel Resilience party leader Benny Gantz.
"Gantz might be better than Netanyahu but he doesn't present an alternative. In fact, the two share the same views and have the same policies. Both plan to annex Palestinian territories," he said, referring to Netanyahu's pre-election promise to annex the Jordan Valley, a move that Gantz supported.

Other politicians, including those belonging to Meretz - considered a left-wing party in the Israeli political landscape - cannot be partners for peace either, thinks the pundit.

"Meretz have merged with Ehud Barak and he is not exactly known for his peace efforts," said al-Masri.

Barak, one of Israel's most decorated commanders, is mostly remembered for his role in Israel's Operation Cast Lead of 2008 when he - as the minister of defence - was responsible for the killing of more than a thousand Palestinians in Gaza, many of whom were civilians.

In 2010 he was held responsible for Israel's attack on a group of international human rights activists heading to Gaza on board of a flotilla that aimed at breaking Israel's blockade of the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Call for Unity

Therefore, al-Masri thinks that the Palestinians have nobody to count on but themselves.

"Our military resistance failed to achieve the goal of establishing a Palestinian state. The balance of power is not on the Palestinian side so there is no point in confronting Israel militarily. Diplomatic efforts have been futile too. That's why we need to reconsider our strategy and take a different path," said the expert.

This new path, believes al-Masri, will include a boycott of Israel, international pressure and various propaganda tools that would help to explain Palestinian stance to the international audience.

But before the Palestinians can start taking those steps, al-Masri thinks they should first overcome their inner split.
"Firstly, Fatah and Hamas need to realize that they don't have a majority to govern alone, so they need each other to stay afloat. And secondly, the annexation of the Jordan Valley is not just a problem of the Palestinians living in the West Bank - it is a national tragedy. Israel's siege of Gaza is not solely an issue for Gazans - it is a major headache for all the Palestinians. That's why we need this unity to put pressure on Israel and the international community to recognize our cause," he stressed.
Despite the hardships, al-Masri remains optimistic. "Unity is not an option, it is a necessity. As for Israelis, they need a change too and I am sure that eventually they will elect a leader, who will want to achieve peace with the Palestinians. But it won't happen overnight. It will take years to achieve".

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.