Between Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who announced that there would be no annexation, and Knesset Member Miki Zohar of the Likud, who is presenting an annexation with no plan, the Israeli Right must come to its senses. When it looks confused and sounds confused—it’s confused.
I believe that Israel has a clear interest in applying Israeli law in the settlement blocs and in the Jordan Valley. The area of consensus. The settlement blocs—because of the demography and the understandings from the past. The Jordan Valley—because of the geography. But if we do annex, we must also say where we are building and what places we are leaving as a disputed area. We must present maps and plans, and all that requires clearing the ambiguity. And that’s where the problem lies.
Prophecy was given to fools, yet I predicted on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration that without an Israeli initiative that would be presented to the new American president—a full, logical plan—he would find others to tell him what to do. I have no idea whether the statements made by Lieberman and other Israeli officials about travel warnings to the Israeli right-wing districts are true, I have no idea whether the objection to an annexation is serious or just an excuse—but there is no doubt that official Israel seems more confused than ever.
The Right is losing its way at a time when it should be providing clear answers. Fifty years after the Six-Day War, in an era in which the slogan “territories for peace” sounds distant and out of touch, and with an American president who undoubtedly arrived as a clean slate, with a few pro-Israel statements—we have all the conditions to say what we want. And what’s happening? Nothing.
It’s as if the Israeli Left is being invited to celebrate the “there is nothing because there was nothing” comment. And after all, there is something which is being discussed, and I’m not talking about Miki Zohar. The national camp’s risk evaluation has proved to be remarkably accurate. A self-fulfilling prophecy, even when there were prime ministers with a lot of good will to make peace.
Don’t give them guns, the Right protested against the Oslo Agreements. We gave them guns, and we got rivers of blood. Gaza will turn in to a terrorist base, the Right said, and we got a Hamas enemy state. They were right about everything they said, until the moment the Right became the only governor. Until the moment there were no competitors left. And that’s when they fell silent.
The Palestinian Authority, which they referred to as an enemy, is being protected. In the Gaza Strip, although we were there after the disengagement, there is no one who is seeking to rebuild Gush Katif. And the right-wing political ideas have been pushed aside because of Obama and now because of Trump.
Nothing has been placed on the table apart from helium balloons. First, it was a regional conference based on the Saudi initiative. Futile nonsense, even if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had accepted the proposals exposed by Barak Ravid in Haaretz. An initiative which was born following the rivers of blood of 9/11, after Saudi Arabia—where the terrorists came from—was looking for a political spin to improve its image. The Saudis also sold an initiative to the New York Times like on “Sesame Street”—air in a bottle—and over the years, we turned it into something real.
In practice, there was never a starting point for negotiations. A return to the 1967 borders is a strategic danger to Israel, the return of Arab refugees is a red line in Israel, and apart from establishing ties which the Arab states will only agree to if the first part is implemented—there is nothing and there was nothing. This is the reason why the Israeli governments and right-wing coalition’s flirt with the “Arab initiative” concept is an absurdity which conveys the same confused message.
Then came Netanyahu’s “state minus” and Naftali Bennett’s “autonomy on steroids,” which were never discussed in the government. And finally, Miki Zohar comes along and offers one state without a right to vote. And in this state, who will pay for national insurance, for education and for solving clan fights in Jenin? Neither I nor Miki Zohar.
Instead of a marathon of policy discussions, we received a marathon of discussions over one community with 40 families. Instead of a strategic plan, they discussed the Regulation Law. Instead of discussing what should be presented to Trump, they were excited by the unbinding remarks he made in the first meeting. And that’s where the policy ends.
The only option was and remains to say what we want with the absence of peace. We have to do it for the Trump administration, but mainly for ourselves. There are enough serious people in the Right, there are enough Likud members with conceptual abilities. And when they withdraw into the pleasures of confusion, all we are left with is Miki Zohar.