Fri | Apr 19, 2024

Shining light into dark corners of Israel’s Likud party

Published:Tuesday | February 27, 2024 | 12:06 AM


On February 19, the US proposed a draft United Nations Security Council resolution supporting a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, while strongly discouraging an Israeli ground offensive into the besieged city of Rafah. President Biden notified his intentions in a telephone call to Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud party leads Israel in the Gaza War that has already claimed over 29,000 Palestinian lives, with over 69,000 injured and countless thousands buried in the rubble. There is a saying that history often repeats itself, and this change of direction from the White House sounded eerily similar to when President Ronald Reagan telephoned then Israeli PM Menachem Begin during his Lebanon War in 1982. Although President Reagan was a former movie actor best remembered for co-starring with the chimpanzee in Bedtime For Bonzo, he wasn’t joking or fooling around when he called PM Begin. He expressed outrage at the killing of civilians during a 10-week siege of West Beirut, where Israeli Defence Force (IDF) was bombing positions held by the Palestinian Liberation Organization. PM Begin was not necessarily a nice guy to deal with, but took the US President’s words to heart, ordering a ceasefire shortly after that telephone call in 1982.

Migrating from Poland to Palestine in 1942, Menachem Begin soon became leader of the Irgun gang’s terror attacks against the British Army and Palestinians; killing and maiming many until 1948 when the state of Israel was declared. Zionist terrorists were then integrated into the IDF, although Begin was the most wanted man in Palestine with a $50,000 bounty on his head from UK; later on he formed the Likud party, eventually becoming PM in 1977. The truce in 1982’s Lebanon War following President Reagan’s phone call was short-lived; only a month later came the infamous massacres at Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, where over 2,000 Palestinians were slaughtered in two blood-thirsty days by Lebanon’s Christian Phalangists under authorisation of the IDF. Such was the international outcry that a commission was formed in the Israeli parliament, finding Defence Minister Ariel Sharon indirectly responsible for the massacres; he and top IDF generals were forced to resign. However, that was not the end of Ariel Sharon, who as a youngster was leading the disreputable Unit 101 in the Haganah militia, and, despite a chequered political career, was sworn in as Likud PM in 2001. Benjamin Netanyahu is a notorious tough guy, and a survivor in the hazardous minefield of Israeli politics; hopefully, this very brief glance at two of his predecessors shines a light into dark corners of Israel’s Likud party.


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