Encountering Peace: Decision-making time

There is no possibility for Israel to have it both ways – we can either have a Jewish nation-state on that territory or a democratic state.

Naftali Bennett at a Bayit Yehudi faction meeting 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Naftali Bennett at a Bayit Yehudi faction meeting 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Naftali Bennett’s “the idea of a Palestinian state has come to a dead end,” if true, should be restated as “the idea of the Zionist movement has come to a dead end.” That is the only logical conclusion of the ideology of Bennett and his followers. If the idea of the partitioning of the land between the river and sea into a “Jewish state and an Arab state” is finished, then the idea of a democratic state of the Jews is also kaput.
There is no possibility for Israel to have it both ways – we can either have a Jewish nation-state on that territory or a democratic state. Continuing to deny the Palestinian Arabs living in that territory – 1.2 million inside of Israel proper (who will be included in the total number of Palestinians), 2.5 million in Judea and Samaria, 1.6 million in Gaza – full political rights, full equality, not just under the law, but in reality, means that Israel will become the new form of apartheid in the 21st century.
There is no way to avoid this, even if Bennett’s demographers argue with the numbers above – it is not a matter of numbers, but of principle.
I don’t usually use the “A” word (apartheid) when talking about Israel. I have argued with those who use it, such as the founders of the global BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign, that the root justification for them using the “A” word is the de-legitimation of Israel’s existence. They claim that the Jews have no right to a state of their own. While some of that is based on legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies that preserve and entrench its control of the Palestinian people and the denial of their liberation, others make the claim out of sometimes veiled anti-Semitism.
As long as there remains a possibility for the two-state solution, the use of the “A” word is not appropriate and exposes the real motivation of those who use it. If Bennett, Danny Danon and even Moshe Ya’alon are proven correct, that a Palestinian state will not be established, they with their own words and actions can only be named the fathers of Israeli apartheid. Those who attempt to discredit this assertion by comparing South African apartheid with Israel’s reality are missing the point.
Israel’s apartheid, if allowed to emerge, will be a new form of the ideology which denies millions of people their basic political rights, denies them basic freedoms, usurps their land and resources, controls their movements and locks them into a dependent economic system of ongoing poverty and dis-enfranchisement.
Bennett and his ilk talk about annexing Area “C” – 62 percent of Judea and Samaria – and leaving the Palestinians in the islands that make up areas “A” and “B” which, by the way, also remain fully under Israel’s control, even if we fool ourselves into believing the Palestinians are in control of these areas.
Israel controls these territories in reality; it enters them at will, controls their population registry, the movement and access of the people and goods in those areas, the airspace, water and even the quarrying of the stones which we use to build our own homes.
Israel has merely rid itself of the nuisance of having to directly provide the millions of people there services such as health, welfare and education. Until now, in exchange, we allow the international community and some Israelis and Palestinians to continue to believe that someday Israel will consent to Palestinian freedom and liberation in a state of their own. But if Bennett is correct, the charade of two states is over and the likes of Binyamin Netanyahu (and me, in this case) are finished, and the reality of a nondemocratic Israel stares us in the face.
Likud coalition chairman MK Yair Levin stated that he believes that what Bennett said is true. Likud Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin conferred that he, too, agrees with Bennett. Likud Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon also says Palestinian independence is not on the agenda – because the Palestinians don’t want it, he claims, surely one of the most outrageous statements made to date, so much echoing those white South Africans who said that the blacks of South Africa don’t want majority rule because they know that the whites rule so much better than the blacks would be able to do.
This camp in the Likud and its coalition partners includes many others.
Interestingly, though, they have also all stated that in Israel foreign policy on this question is determined by the prime minister. The prime minister continues to declare that he supports the two-state solution.
It is actually quite easy for the prime minister to prove what he says. The way to actualize the vision of the twostate solution is quite easy. One major policy speech on the issue that would clearly paint the vision would be sufficient to lay the foundations for implementation.
The claim that we should not expose our negotiating positions on the issue is absurd, not only because it has been already negotiated for years, but also because the “price for peace” is so well known and will not change. The idea that the Palestinians are going to modify the “price” because they are sitting across the table from Netanyahu instead of Olmert is utterly ridiculous. The deal for Israeli-Palestinian peace, for establishing a Palestinian state next to Israel, for enabling Israel to be the state of the Jewish people and a real democratic state is on the table and has been there for years.
Despite Bennett et al, there is a majority of about 70 votes in this Knesset for Israeli-Palestinian peace. There is even a Jewish majority in this Knesset for the deal.
True, the current coalition will fall to pieces if Netanyahu were to bring it to a vote, but he will get the majority in the Knesset and he will get the majority of Israelis in a referendum or in new elections. There is no time to wait. The entire future of the Zionist enterprise called the democratic Jewish nation-state is on the table.
The author is co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book, Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel, has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew.