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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
camp in the Likud and its coalition partners includes many
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.
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.