By Ted Belman
The right in Israel rejects the creation of a Palestinian state, whether or not demilitarized, and supports settlement construction in Area C of Judea and Samaria as defined by the Oslo Accords. Israel’s current government does neither.
But it does say that now is not the time to create a Palestinian state. Big deal, so does the Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog.
The key difference between the actions of the current government and the Unilateral Separation Plan of the Zionist Union is that the latter wants to build a barrier around the settlement blocks and to divide Jerusalem with a barrier in order to separate the Arabs from the Jews.
Both want to keep the IDF in place. Both are against building outside of the settlement blocs and both want the approval of the US to building inside the settlement blocs.
Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid, says Israel Must Accept Arab Peace Initiative as Basis for Talks
“Israel’s master strategy needs to be moving toward a regional arrangement that will enable a full normalization of relations with the Arab states and the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel.”
Although the title to this article referred to the Arab Peace Initiative, Lapid himself referred to the Saudi Peace Plan which differs from the Arab Peace Initiative in that it does not stress the right of return for Palestinians refugees.
Thus opposition leaders, Lapid and Herzog, are prepared to negotiate based on the ’67 lines plus swaps, but not now. The same for Netanyahu.
Lapid recently said, “It was clear the Left would not be in power for the next 30 years.” Accordingly Lapid presents himself as a centrist.
“I come from a home with the legacy of the nationalist camp,” he said, noting that his father, former minister Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, was a follower of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin. “I am enthusiastically in favor of annexing the Golan. My principle says maximum Jews on maximum land with maximum security and with minimum Palestinians.”
Thus both Herzog and Lapid are pushing for separation. So is Netanyahu who keeps saying he is against a bi-national state.
On the question of the current terror attacks Lapid said on Walla News on October 11th that “whoever takes out a knife or a screwdriver– should be shot dead”. That puts him to the right of Netanyahu.
Lapid who is positioning himself to challenge Netanyahu for the premiership has also made moves to reconcile with Shas and UTJ saying only that he will work to convince them that it is in their interest to teach their children, math and English. Thus he is paving the way for them to be in his coalition.
Lapid is yet to support the NGO bill but he did announce his intention to introduce a Bill that would prevent Israeli nonprofits that “vilify” the state from being funded by organizations that support a boycott of Israel. He went on to single out Breaking the Silence.
“Criticism builds us as a society, but there is a fundamental difference between criticism and vilifying officers and IDF soldiers abroad. That is not criticism, but undermining the foundations of the state. Organizations like Breaking the Silence have crossed the red line from criticism into subversion.”
This places him again to the right of Netanyahu who has yet to make this distinction.
Avigdor Liberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu (Our Israel Home), has positioned himself to the right of Netanyahu on all things. For instance, he is for capital punishment for terrorists, for allowing hunger strikers to die in prison, for destroying Hamas, for not releasing terrorist prisoners, for killing on the spot, any terrorist who comes to kill a Jew, for enabling the Knesset to over-rule the Supreme Court and so on. He complains that Netanyahu gave away Hebron and supported Sharon’s disengagement until the last moment. He, on the other hand, opposed it and was kicked out of the government for so doing.
As for his trial balloon floated a number of years ago about swapping the area known as the Triangle–which encompasses Palestinian villages like Umm al-Fahm and Taibeh in exchange for parts of Judea and Samaria, I am advised that he has moved on from that suggestion.
When Isaac Herzog delivered his speech calling for separation, he burnished his security credentials by going to the right of the current government in its treatment of Hamas. He went on to say:
“They will have no immunity and for every attack they’ll pay a heavy price. This won’t mean dummy bombings of empty areas. We’ll employ an effective iron fist and shut down their radio and TV stations. After that they won’t have internet or mobile phone services. They won’t be able to transmit instructions to terrorists. We’ll take harsh and severe steps, including ones directed at their leaders.”
As for the terror tunnels Hamas is building, he said,
”The political leadership must provide a clear public answer to the citizens. [It must] stop hesitating…. They must instruct the IDF to bomb the tunnels and destroy this threat”.
In response to this, Haaretz published an article titled, Herzog passes Netanyahu on the right.
Back to our so-called right-wing government.
Bayit Yehudit (Jewish Home), the most right-wing party in the government is no longer demanding a lifting of the building freeze, thought it would like it lifted.
Its leader, Naftali Bennett, in his capacity of Minister of Education, has been working to improve Arab education, so much so, that Haaretz published an article last June, calling him an Unlikely Champion of Arab Education. Shortly thereafter he announced that Arab children would start to learn Hebrew in kindergarten saying “Improvement of Hebrew among Arab students will result in their ability to more easily integrate into the Israeli workforce, and economy and society at large”. In December he announced the creation of the first dedicated academic college for Arab Israelis saying “There is no doubt that the Arab public lacks an academic institution of excellence, which is suited to the demand and will advance equality within Israeli society.” and further “The aim of establishing a college, over and above the equality issue, is to prevent Arab citizens from studying in institutions in Arab countries or in Hebron.”
This is beyond my comprehension. Israel has a serious problem with Arab “resistance”, which takes the form of daily riots and terrorist acts. This resistance is promoted by the Palestinian Authority, the Arab schools and the Mosques. Why would Israel want to add to this indoctrination by creating an Arab University? The entrance requirements to Israel’s Universities is the same as for Jews and Arabs. In fact 20% of the Hebrew University students are Arab, the same percentage as in the population itself.
So Bennett not only wants to position himself and his party as a bridge between the religious and the secular but also between the Arabs and the Jews.
Bennett, at least, is pushing the Zionist enterprise in other ways.
He is dedicated to inculcating traditional religious-Zionist values in the nation’s youth. To this end he has revised the civics text book by adding these values and announced that this year would be the year of United Jerusalem. The left is outraged. It wants the text book to stress democratic values rather than Zionist values.
Ayelet Shaked, also of Jewish Home, as Justice Minister, is doing her part to push for legislation which strengthens Israel as a Jewish state such as the NGO Transparency Bill which applies solely to non-profits that receive more than half their funding from foreign governments, the Nation-state Bill which would enshrine as a Basic Law the concept that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and sets out that all Israeli law must be interpreted according to this principle, the Bill to allow 90 MKs to suspend a fellow lawmaker for “inappropriate behavior” and two Bills; one bill to allow the Knesset to override a court decision striking down its legislation, and the other to change the judicial selection process by diluting the power of sitting Supreme Court justices on the panel.
She is meeting great resistance but is undaunted. Obviously many in the so-called right-wing government are either against this legislation or in favor of watering it down. Accordingly, the government is not as right wing as the right want it to be.
Herzog says the Jewish nation-state bill puts the country at risk of losing its character as a “democratic and egalitarian” country.
While Lapid, Herzog and Lieberman keep pushing for separation, the government keeps pushing for integration. You would think it’s the other way around. In this vein the government is doubling work permits for Arabs, investing NIS 15 billion in Arab municipalities, is releasing NIS 500 million to the PA of the taxes collected by Israel for them but withheld until now.
As far back as June of last year Evelyn Gordon wrote Israel’s ‘Hardline’ Government Unveils Major Benefits for Israeli Arabs in which she described revolutionary moves by the government to improve Arab housing and to boost funding for Arab schools by a billion shekels (about $260 million) over 5 years.
Could it be that Netanyahu and Bennett are looking to garner Arab votes for their parties? Or have they simply accepted the idea that we are doomed to live together and might as well make the best of it.
During the last Gaza war, Netanyahu rejected ceasefires proposed by Pres Obama which involved enabling a role for Qatar and Turkey, two arch enemies of Israel, choosing instead to combine with Egypt in pushing for the ceasefire they both wanted. Turkey, at the moment has no diplomatic relations with Israel and is a supporter of Hamas which is dedicated to destroying Israel and killing all Jews.
Nevertheless, Israel subsequently gave Qatar a role in Gaza to manage the reconstruction of Gaza and is currently negotiating with Turkey to afford them a role in Gaza too. Turkey wants the blockade lifted and a port to be approved. It also wants to be contracted to build the port. Although the government denies that they are in discussions for a port, its denials are not credible. Surprisingly, Minister Uri Ariel, also of Jewish Home, is in favor of building such a port arguing we must give them economic freedom but not military freedom. Bennett is vehemently opposed.
This government is also wobbly on the EU. The EU is actively working against any right wing policies regarding Judea and Samaria. They went so far as to require all products produced by Jews in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) to be labeled accordingly. Israel retaliated by shutting them out of any peace process but this hardline was quickly abandoned for a small concession.
The EU continues to finance illegal Arab construction in Area C, to finance an illegal road through Area C to the Dead Sea and to finance subversive NGO’s. (The Oslo Accords created Area C and gave Israel full jurisdiction over it.) Our so-called right-wing government accepts this with hardly a whimper.
Obviously the government’s policy is to manage the status quo by taking small steps toward accommodation. It wants to lessen the friction and to enable both sides accept the other. It believes that, sometime way in the future, the two-state solution will come into being. Either that or that the terms of Oslo will become permanent.
Critics complain that Netanyahu is all reaction and no action.
Perhaps the government’s action or lack of it is more sinister than that.
David Bedein accuses Israel of being complicit in the EU take-over of Judea and Samaria. According to him Israel made a quiet agreement with the EU in 2005 to permit the EU to take-over Judea and Samaria. What you see now is proof of the pudding.
A real right–wing government would be basing its policies on ultimately extending Israeli sovereignty to all or part of the Judea and Samaria. The current government offers no sign of that. Quite the opposite.