IT’S time for the international community to see him for what he is. Time to stop the recognition and accommodation of him as an ally. And it’s time to stop the prevarication as to what to do about him when it comes to possible war crimes and crack on with the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation.

I’m talking of course about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the man who is the single biggest hindrance and obstacle to a ceasefire in Gaza, and a leader who almost no-one, home and away, wants to remain in power.

As if it wasn’t already crystal clear, the events of the past week must have convinced even the biggest doubters that the war in Gaza continues for the simple reason that it’s what Netanyahu needs and desires.

If further proof were needed, then just consider the details reported in yesterday’s edition of the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz.

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It tells of how during last Thursday’s war cabinet meeting, Netanyahu proposed starting the military operation in Rafah as soon as possible, and did so despite senior Israeli officials’ assessments that Hamas was close to agreeing to release the hostages and a ceasefire.

According to inside sources cited by the paper, everyone present at the meeting including “the war cabinet ministers and professionals” objected to Netanyahu’s proposal, and it was rejected.

But hey, what Netanyahu wants, Netanyahu gets, and that’s what lies at the heart of the continuing Israeli onslaught in Gaza.

The National: Benjamin NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

In one fell swoop, Netanyahu has scuppered a ceasefire deal and de facto the release of the hostages.

He has flown once again in the face of Israel’s US and European allies, making a mockery of the Biden administration.

He has also left Israel’s relations with Egypt and Jordan in an even more parlous state and is liable to scuttle – for what it was worth – any “normalisation” process with Saudi Arabia.

He is, in short, toxic – everything Netanyahu touches politically becomes poisoned, degraded, killed off, or only fuels mistrust and acrimony.

All this too has one sole purpose: his own political survival. Deals with the devil are Netanyahu’s stock in trade, so he will work with fascists and criminals if needs be.

He knows too that in working with such unsavoury coalition bedfellows, the elimination of the Palestinian people is part of the blueprint, and any chance of their survival guarantees his own demise.

In ensuring that bulwark of self-preservation, Netanyahu will do almost anything, and to hell with the consequences for Israel and its allies.

That much has been apparent for years, and though both parties have long known it, still they continue to look the other way or put up with him.

With regards to ordinary Israelis themselves, yes, sure, they have taken to the streets in vast numbers to express their displeasure, impatience, and anger for the odious politics that Netanyahu and his coalition represents.

But the fact remains that not enough of them have done so or in a way that makes it unequivocally clear that he is not welcome anymore, even though he has put Israel’s democracy in serious jeopardy in the process.

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There is the argument of course that the events of October 7 with Hamas’s attack on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza have got in the way of those collective Israeli objections to Netanyahu and his right-wing government.

Israel, perhaps even more than most countries, has a habit of rallying round the flag in times of national crisis, but frankly, this excuse is rapidly running out in the face of actions by a man who is much more the root cause of the problem than he is someone who offers any solution.

If Israelis are so desirous of the return of their hostages, if they really are so desirous of peace with the Palestinians and a complete re-evaluation of that relationship, then Netanyahu must be made to go – it’s that simple, or should be.

But, of course, it’s not, for Israel’s political landscape is like a frozen knot, near impossible to unravel right now.

Tap deep down too into the collective Israeli psyche and I suspect that notion of a genuine peace with the Palestinians – with some admirable exceptions – is really more of a mirage than many would have us believe.

So, given this unlikely intervention of Israelis themselves or their unwillingness to oust Netanyahu, it comes down to the international community to let the country and its leader know that continuing with a business-as-usual approach is no longer tenable.

Now is the moment to deliver that message like never before.

To put this quite simply, as long as Netanyahu and his vicious ultranationalist cohorts continue to believe that they can do what they want at the expense of countless Palestinian lives, then normalisation of relations between the West and Israel – never mind Saudi Arabia – is a non-starter.

The National: The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands (Peter Dejong/AP)The International Criminal Court in the Netherlands

In terms of leverage, it’s time to silence the swirl of rumours surrounding reports that the (ICC) in The Hague might issue arrest warrants for Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials in relation to the war in Gaza and instead make it a reality.

Yes, I know that the ICC has not said it is considering such a move yet, but clearly Netanyahu felt the threat serious enough to say last month that any warrant “would be an be an outrage of historic proportions”.

It’s time to remind Netanyahu that, yes, there is an outrage of enormous proportions, and that outrage is the carrying out of military action aimed at obliterating a people, using massively disproportionate military action, famine and genocide in order to achieve that end.

Unlike the International Court of Justice (ICJ) court, the ICC deals with individuals rather than countries, and what better way to let Netanyahu know that he is not above arrest and potential prosecution for war crimes committed in Gaza.

I realise that Israel is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, which gives the ICC its powers, but that must not stop others from acting.

Those among Israel’s supporters who argue that an international court’s intervention is unwarranted because Israel has its own independent judiciary to hold the government to account are missing a crucial point.

They are failing to acknowledge that it’s that same judiciary that Netanyahu’s government tried to ride roughshod over and change the way Israel’s judicial system works that angered enough Israelis to bring them onto the streets last year.

“Israel expects the leaders of the free world to stand firmly against the ICC’s outrageous assault on Israel’s inherent right of self-defence,” Netanyahu arrogantly declared in a statement after the ICC warned those engaged in the war in Gaza to proceed with extreme care or be held accountable for war crimes.

Netanyahu is right about one thing in this regard, it is indeed time that the leaders of the so-called free world stood firm.

This time, though, not to let him and his actions off the hook, but to make sure that Netanyahu is put under enough pressure to make his removal from office a necessity as well as hold him to account.