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Netanyahu’s legacy: Dividing Jews and uniting Arabs

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling in the recent Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif crisis threatens to turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a nationalist struggle into a religious conflagration.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem July 30, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RTS19PQE

During the Roman era, the Temple Mount played a central role in the empire’s “divide and rule” strategy. In the first century B.C., the Roman governor Gabinius reinstated John Hyrcanus as high priest of the Jewish Temple, but handed over much of the power to rule the province to a group of rival noblemen. As concerns the modern era, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will go down in history as a politician who built a magnificent political career on foundations of enmity, on walls he erected between the people of Israel — between those on the right and the left, Jews and Arabs, the religious and secular, between ordinary Israelis and human rights activists and the media. History books will also credit him with the singular achievement of unifying the Arab and Muslim worlds against Israel and the Jewish people.

For years, the Palestinians have been trying with very limited success to unify the Arab and Muslim worlds around their struggle for the right to self-determination. Even as Israeli flags are unfurled over dozens of new, invasive outposts in the occupied West Bank, however, the flags of Jordan and Egypt continue to fly over their embassies in Israel. The Gulf states are tied up in a war in Yemen and a conflict with Qatar, while the Sunnis and Shiites are busy with mutual bloodletting. In addition, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' allies take time off from their rivalry with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, they seek shelter from the plots being hatched by former senior Fatah member Mohammed Dahlan and his people to dethrone Abbas. This is all without even mentioning the all-out wars in Syria and Iraq.

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