BORIS Johnson and Benjamin Netanyahu. Now there’s a leadership combo to conjure with. Frankly, the very thought of the two men sitting down together to discuss mutual political concerns is enough to give me the heebie-jeebies.

How interesting, then it would have been to be a fly on the wall when the UK Prime Minister and his Israeli counterpart got together in London this time last week in a meeting that had not been briefed in advance by either side.

Apart from the pressing question of what to do over increased tensions with Iran, both leaders have always had much more in common and never more so than right now. For a start both are political opportunists of the first order.

It matters nothing to either man that they are economic with the truth or happy to get into bed with political enemies of virtually any stripe provided it enhances their respective self-standing.

Donald Trump’s obvious narcissism aside, few other world leaders can match the naked ambition of Boris and “Bibi” – as Netanyahu is commonly known. For both men their entire political lives have been devoted to climbing the ladder of power, whatever the consequences and cost to those around them. In Johnson’s case his hell-bent determination, if necessary, to push through a No-Deal Brexit under which the most vulnerable will suffer most is now glaringly self-evident. That the Prime Minster is willing to pander to the far-right, countenance aides, supporters and propagandists who are clearly racist and intolerant of others, is something he also shares with his Israeli counterpart

For both leaders, too, election contests are looming. Early next week in Israel, Netanyahu faces another close-run ballot. Cue, then, his usual deployment of inflammatory pre-vote ploys. Just as he did when he scraped home to victory in 2015, Netanyahu is again posturing to right-wing nationalists in the Israeli electorate, while painting Israel’s Arab citizens, a fifth of the population, as disloyal fifth columnists.

Palestinians, of course, will bear the brunt of all this – they always do at Netanyahu’s hand – when he invariably throws them under a bus in order to satisfy his own personal ambition. Think Brexit and it’s easy to see that Johnson is cut from the same cloth.

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Only this past week the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported how just days after the Israeli Civil Administration demolished the home and restaurant of a Palestinian family after evicting them from land near Beit Jala in the West Bank, Israeli settlers moved in.

What makes the case interesting, if not uncommon, is that the demolitions were carried out after a subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) that manages the organisation’s land produced documents showing that it has owned the land since the late 1960s.

The Palestinian family disputes this, and is trying to prove its ownership of the land in court. In the interim, the family is living in a tent near their former home. Although the JNF says it has leased the land to the settlers for agricultural purposes, as Haaretz reported, no permits have ever been issued for the construction of buildings at the site, and the new structures therefore have no more legal validity than the Palestinian family’s home and restaurant. It’s called playing fast and loose with the law at the cost of the most vulnerable.

To be on the receiving end of such outrageous treatment is sadly, of course, nothing new to Palestinians, but under Netanyahu’s rule such activities have accelerated enormously. The dangers for this already volatile region are obvious.

The National:

Speaking about Netanyahu’s stated intention to apply Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area of the West Bank if he is re-elected in next week’s election, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed the concerns of many.

“Such steps, if implemented, would constitute a serious violation of international law … they would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations and regional peace, while severely undermining the viability of the two-state solution,” Guterres warned.

In other words, it would put paid to any hope of an independent Palestinian state in the territory Israel seized in the Israeli-Arab war of 1967.

It’s all too easy to dismiss Netanyahu’s intentions over the West Bank as simple self-serving electoral rhetoric, but that underestimates how far the Israeli political spectrum has lurched to the right in recent times, especially since he first came to power. Let’s remember, too, that annexation is also the formal policy of Netanyahu’s Likud party, whose irredentist charter expressly rejects a Palestinian state.

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While next week’s Israeli elections will not necessarily hinge on questions of foreign policy, Netanyahu has nevertheless been making constant references about those he sees as global allies, and what an unsavoury lot they are too.

AS Robert Kagan pointed out in The Washington Post this week, scheduled summits with Vladimir Putin, constant references by Netanyahu to close relations with hard-right leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, as well as with Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist leader of India, tell us much about the kinds of political players the Israeli prime minister especially “values” these days.

Then enter stage right one Boris Johnson, currently at the height of his efforts to rally British nationalists to his side in the fight over Brexit. It was Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, who last year made the telling observation that “the less united Europe is, the better”.

Oren’s assertion tallies with the view of other conservative Israeli commentators including one-time Netanyahu aide Yoram Hazony, who openly proclaimed what he described as Israel’s solidarity with those regimes he calls the “holdouts against universal liberalism”.

Yes, it would have been fascinating indeed to be that fly on the wall at Downing Street last week when Boris met Bibi. Doubtless they talked about countering Iran and perhaps, too, about more cosy arms deals between Britain and Israel.

On the other hand, I’d lay odds that little was mentioned about holding the Israeli government to account for its ongoing violations of international law in Gaza and the West Bank. Who knows? Perhaps they even confided their mutual willingness to sacrifice almost anything on the altar of domestic politics and personal ambition.