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Photo: Motti Kimchi
Rally marking 19th anniversary of Rabin's murder. 'It might be time to think outside the box'
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Nahum Barnea
Don't write off Israel's left just yet
Op-ed: With no peace agreement in the horizon, we must hold onto the chance of a future agreement. A unilateral withdrawal from West Bank lands will prevent Israel's isolation, just like the Gaza pullout prevented a similar danger 10 years ago.
A grim, melancholic state of mind rested upon the rally marking the 19th anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's murder. That's what happens when the most enthusiastic person at the square is 92 years old, and his rage, which is very impressive physiologically, has more to do with Shimon Peres and the medical miracle he embodies than with the chances of peace.

 

 

I may be exaggerating, but the feeling was that the thousands came to the square in order to fulfill their duty to themselves, to their conscience, in order to make an appearance, in order to punch in.

 

Where is the rage, I asked. There is no rage. Where is the plan of action? There is no plan of action.

 

"Those who give up on peace are delusional," Peres said, and the audience applauded. The term "delusional," which was reborn in recent years are an inclusive title and has been worn out, sounds innovative and fresh coming from Peres' mouth. There is no doubt that Peres is up to date, if not on peace issues then on word issues.

 

Peace is no just a heart's desire. It's a key component in any vision seeking to secure the State of Israel's existence in the coming years. But a signed peace agreement which will solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at once is an entirely different story.

 

Unfortunately, there is no such thing, not in the foreseeable future, neither on the Israeli side nor on the Palestinian side. The gap is too wide, the political price needed in order to bridge it is too high, the leaders are too small, too petrified, and the two nations are too spoilt. They will only accept the required concessions if and when a knife is held to their neck.

 

We are stuck with the settlers, with the hatred of Arabs, with the fears and anxieties our leaders are instilling in us; they are stuck with the refugees, with the hatred of Jews, with the illusion that we can still be thrown into the sea.

 

The right 'is pursuing an apartheid state, an occupation state. We must not leave it alone' (Photo: EPA)
The right 'is pursuing an apartheid state, an occupation state. We must not leave it alone' (Photo: EPA)

 

The negotiations are resumed from time to time precisely because the hidden assumption on both sides is that nothing will come out of them. That's how Benjamin Netanyahu marketed the Bar-Ilan speech to Benny Begin and to the right-wing camp in his Likud party; that's how Mahmoud Abbas marketed his agreement to take part in the Kerry initiatives to his movement's senior members.

 

In every such round, there is a point in which it seems that the sides are just about to sign an agreement. Gilead Sher, who held the talks with Saeb Erekat during Ehud Barak's term as prime minister, referred to it as "just a stone's throw away." He was wrong: The short distance prevented him from seeing the depth of the abyss gaping underneath.

 

Tzipi Livni was convinced that we were on the verge of an agreement last April. She refused to see the height of the verge.

 

Whoever reads these pessimistic words may get caught in the notion that the historical role of the central and left-wing camp has come to an end. All that is left for them is to emigrate to Berlin.

 

Quite the opposite. It seems that for years, the situation hasn't been as alarming and crying for action as it is now. The facts are known to anyone who lives here: The current government is leading Israel to an external isolation and an internal apartheid. Some of its ministers are pushing for a religious war against the entire Muslim world; racism is raising its head, as well as xenophobia and disregard of the democratic rules of the game.

 

The best thing one case say about the current government is that the next government will be worse. According to Netanyahu's plans, it will include the Likud, Bayit Yehudi and the ultra-Orthodox parties. The state of mind dominating these parties does not bode well neither for democracy, nor for the standard of living here or for Israel's status in the world.

 

Something can be done in the diplomatic field as well. With no agreement in the horizon, we must hold onto the chance of an agreement in the future. The demand for an evacuation of settlements or, at least, for another construction freeze, does not depend on the renewal of the negotiations.

 

A unilateral withdrawal from West Bank lands will prevent Israel's isolation, just like Ariel Sharon's pullout from Gaza prevented a similar danger about 10 years ago.

 

It might be time to think outside the box, to revive confederative or federative ideas. The right is pursuing an apartheid state, an occupation state. We must not leave it alone.

 

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