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Photo: Gil Yohanan
Principle of not negotiating under fire should be honored by all Israeli leaders
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Apartheid, war or unity?
Op-ed: Upcoming vote is not a choice between inspiring visions but a flight from frightening scenarios. Therefore, Israeli leaders of the right, center and left should agree on a shared pre-electoral platform towards the Palestinian problem.
The landscape for the Israeli electorate is gloomy. If Israelis vote for the right-wing parties and the rightist parties have their way, Israel will steadily slide towards apartheid and international pariah status.

 

 

If Israelis prefer left-wing parties, and assuming these parties withdraw from the West Bank, the next elections could take place under sniper fire and Qassam rockets launched from an independent Palestine in the West Bank.

 

In the former scenario, millions will gloat that Jews have become oppressors and the legitimacy of the entire Zionist project will be jeopardized.

 

This sounds depressing, yet the alternative scenario is even bleaker. Given the precedents in Lebanon, Areas A of the West Bank and Gaza, it appears likely that an independent Palestinian state will be a hotbed of Arab irredentism.

 

Given recent surveys revealing that 60% of the Palestinian population support claiming the whole of historic Palestine as one of the chief goals of an independent state, it would be hardly surprising if at some point following independence the peace agreement degenerates into another bloodbath for Jews and Arabs.

 

Once this happens, international media outlets are likely to chastise Israel for civilian casualties in Ramallah and Bethlehem, the same way casualties of the latest conflict in Gaza were showcased as evidence of Israel’s evil nature.

 

Thus, the election is not really a choice between inspiring visions but a flight from frightening scenarios. On the one hand, the scenario of apartheid and racism corrupting the ethical fabric of Israel, discrediting Zionism and tarnishing Judaism. On the other hand concessions that are bound to beget rivers of blood.

 

Netanyahu, Bennett, Lapid, Lieberman and Livni. 'Israel’s politicians need to understand that the safety of their country must prevail over personal interests and partisan agendas' (Photos: Gil Yohanan, Shahar Azran, EPA, AP and GPO) (Photos: Gil Yohanan, Shahar Azran, EPA, AP and GPO)
Netanyahu, Bennett, Lapid, Lieberman and Livni. 'Israel’s politicians need to understand that the safety of their country must prevail over personal interests and partisan agendas' (Photos: Gil Yohanan, Shahar Azran, EPA, AP and GPO)

 

It is for these reasons that Israeli leaders of the right, center and left ought to agree on a shared pre-electoral platform towards the Palestinian problem. I do not consider it far-fetched or unreasonable that Israelis leaders of all stripes condition further negotiations on the establishment of a Palestinian state on disarmament in the Gaza Strip.

 

Indeed, until Gaza continues to threaten Tel Aviv, the outcome of any negotiation is bound to replicate in the West Bank the status quo in Gaza, whereas a decent scenario will only be achievable if Palestinians understand that self-determination and war with Israel do not go hand in hand.

 

Of course, Israeli parties will still disagree about the future borders of a Palestinian state and construction in settlements, but the principle of not negotiating under fire should be honored by all Israeli leaders.

 

Such a national platform offers two additional advantages: First, it would demonstrate to the world that Israel’s democracy cannot be wielded against the essential interests of the Israeli people.

 

Secondly, such a position would be sufficiently sound to convince Western leaders and a substantial share of international public opinion that the ball is now in the Palestinian court.

 

A national platform of this sort is the sole that will make Palestinians realize that Hamas, not Netanyahu, is the biggest impediment to Palestinian independence. And this is an essential step to catalyze the sort of soul-searching that the Palestinians need to undergo in order to mature politically and earn a place amongst the family of nations.

 

These elections could very well aggravate Israel’s current predicament. For this scenario to be averted, Israel’s politicians need to understand that the safety of their country must prevail over personal interests and partisan agendas.

 


פרסום ראשון: 12.12.14, 23:40
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