Hunger Strike Continues as Netanyahu Forms Unity Government
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chairman of the opposition Kadima Party Shaul Mofaz have agreed to form a unity government, which the Calcalist calls “the biggest political bombshell in recent memory.” The move came after Netanyahu had proposed to hold early elections. Mofaz gave an interview with the New York Times earlier this month assuring that he would not enter Bibi’s government, and that he intended to replace him in the next elections. Yossi Verter, senior analyst for Haaretz, says that the move came as a result of Netanyahu’s “great power” and Mofaz’s “great weakness.” Chairwoman of the Labor Party Shelly Yachimovich called the move “the most contemptible and preposterous zigzag in Israel’s political History.”
Meanwhile, Richard Falk, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, says that if there were more than 1,500 prisoners engaged in a hunger strike in any country in the world—other than Palestine—western media would be “obessed with the story.” Right now, two Palestinian prisoners Thaer Halalheh and Bilal Diab enter their 71st day of hunger strike, and Addammeer and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel have reported that both are in critical condition. Despite this dire situation, says Falk, “scant notice” has been taken by Western governments, media, and even the United Nations.
Falk notes that while violent forms of resistance are immediately labeled by the West as “terrorism” and widely covered, resorting to nonviolent direct action such as hunger striking “fall on deaf ears and wooden eyes.” However, Falk says that such large-scale nonviolent action may be the beginning of the Palestinian Spring, which would test Washington’s principles if Palestinian mobilization were confronted violently by Israeli leadership.