The study, conducted by Professor Gideon Doron of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Political Science and Professor Maoz Rosenthal, of the Open University’s faculty of Political Science and International Relations, will be presented at an upcoming conference at Tel Aviv University entitled “40 years of Israeli Rule in the Territories and Their Impact on the State”.
The study found that where as rightist governments can make territorial concessions, left-wing governments cannot afford to take such action.
In essence, it is better for right-wing governments to dissolve their coalitions and let the left-wing take the reigns, because leftists are far less likely to make territorial concessions.
According to the study, furthermore, right-wing parties, such as Moledet, have little political clout and have only acted as a swing vote and tipped the political scales on two occasions: In 1992 when they toppled the government led by former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and in 1999 when they ended the political reign of the government led by former prime minister and current Opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud).
Where as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s rise to power placed the peace process at a premium, his reign as prime minister only lasted two short years and did not include any major territorial concessions.
The study further revealed that contrary to popular opinion, political pressure imposed on the government by settlers does little to impact its political decisions. Israel’s decision to remain in the territories over the years has more to do with security concerns than any other governmental considerations.
“Israel’s various governments had always assumed, from a purely security-based stance, that pulling out of the territories might improve Israel’s security situation, it might also leave the country a lot worse off security wise,” noted the study. “The status quo, which is remaining in the territories, thus seemed the preferable alternative.”
Settlers have little political clout
According to Professor Doron, the common perception that settlers have substantial political clout is often misguided. “I also thought that settlers ‘rule’ the state and do much to steer it politically,” he said. “As it turn out, however, I was mistaken.”
“Because of their political stance,” explained Doron, “settlers cannot latch on the leftist governments and act as a swing vote…they are very limited in terms of political mobility. In a broad-based government, in essence, settlers have zero political pull.”
Why does Israel not pull out of the territories, then? According to Professor Doron this has less to do with settlers and more to do with security concerns. “Peace can be better for Israel security wise,” said Doron, “ but it could be worse. This leads Israel to staunchly maintain the status quo.”
A further study conducted by the two professors, examining the political influence of West Bank voters and their impact on the Israeli political system, will also soon be published. This study examines the impact of the settler population on three different political facets: Coalition-based politics, voter habits, and allocation of state funds since 1967.