The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Extreme Right-Wing and Settler Violence

Mar 6, 2023

This article is translated from the March 3 issue #2848 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

Groups of settlers attacked the Palestinian town of Howwarah in the north of the West Bank on February 26. Israeli soldiers stood passively watching. Some were accomplices.

Hundreds of people from Israeli settlements around Howwarah were able to carry out an anti-Palestinian pogrom with complete impunity. They ransacked and torched many buildings. They destroyed 100 cars and injured 100 people. A Palestinian was shot to death by Israeli soldiers, his family says.

This outburst of settler violence comes after two settlers were killed by a Palestinian gunman. But that attack followed a raid carried out by the Israeli army in Nablus on February 22. That raid left 11 dead and 100 injured, making it the deadliest raid since 2005.

This time, U.S. authorities expressed condemnation of the Howwarah attack. State Department spokesperson Ned Price called it “completely unacceptable” during a press conference: “We expect the Israeli Government to ensure full accountability and legal prosecution of those responsible for these attacks … bring those responsible to justice.” Israeli police say they have only arrested eight settlers, and they already released six of them. So, the settlers continue to enjoy almost total impunity.

The fact remains that the American administration seems to be preoccupied with avoiding a general revolt by the Palestinians, like the Intifadas of the 1980s and 2000s. Under pressure from Washington, a regional summit was held on February 26 in Aqaba, Jordan, with Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian, and American officials present. They pledged to “prevent further violence” and work toward “de-escalation,” in the words of the final communiqué—including stopping “unilateral measures for a period of three to six months.”

Whatever Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants, not even he has a free hand. To maintain his majority in Israeli’s legislature, the Knesset, and therefore hold onto power, he needs the support of the far right, which has several ministers in his government. And they did not hesitate to express their disagreement. “I don’t know what we were talking about or not in Jordan,” one of them said. A leader of the far-right Religious Zionism party said: “There will be no freeze on construction and development in the settlements, even for one day … under my authority.”

The far right’s attaining power and its increasingly decisive influence on government policy cause concern among part of the population. Every Saturday for months now, demonstrations bringing together tens of thousands of people have opposed the administration’s plan to reform the judicial system. The protesters correctly fear that reducing the powers of the Supreme Court will allow far-right parties to increase their grip on political and social life.

It is also true that right-wing former Prime Minister Yair Lapid is among those calling for the demonstrations. He aims to return to power by reinforcing his image as an opponent of Netanyahu. But among the protesters, many sincerely oppose this development. Some of them thus denounce “government by settlers which sets the country on fire with bloodshed.” But, to open a different prospect, it will not be enough to emphasize defending a democracy that never existed for Palestinians.

The only hope the Israeli population has to emerge from the bloody impasse to which its leaders have led it is to question the policies of colonization and expropriation carried out against the Palestinians by the Israeli government since its creation and kick out all those who lead it. There is no other way to succeed in living together in the land of Palestine.