Labor MK: US shouldn't push Israel, PA for peace

MK Merav Michaeli says every round of negotiations that achieves nothing is harmful, "Israelis need to want an agreement."

Merav Michaeli 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Knesset)
Merav Michaeli 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Knesset)
The best thing that the American president can do with regard to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is nothing, Labor MK Merav Michaeli told members of the Foreign Press Association at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Monday.
Neither side wishes to be pressured, explained Knesset newcomer Michaeli, a former journalist and feminist activist who threw her cap into the political arena last October.
“Israelis need to want an agreement,” said Michaeli.
“Every time Israel is pushed by the Americans or the Europeans, there is an Israeli ‘sick dynamic’ that says the whole world is against us and only wants what is best for the Palestinians.”
Every round of negotiations that achieves nothing is harmful, remarked Michaeli, adding that every time there is an alleged offer by Israel that is rejected by the Palestinians, the level of trust and the level of hope go down.
“It’s better not to start another round of hopelessness,” she said.
Michaeli, who believes in the land-for-peace formula, made it clear that her vision for an agreement includes exchanges in Jerusalem.
“If you’re not willing to compromise on Jerusalem, you don’t want to compromise at all,” she said.
The Labor MK stated that despite objections from certain right-wing political quarters, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was interested in resuming negotiations with the Palestinians.
“Netanyahu knows that without negotiations you can’t maintain the status quo,” she said. “What he wants is negotiations that don’t go anywhere and don’t change reality as we know it.”
Michaeli expressed her belief that pressure will not solve the question of haredi enlistment either.
“Coercion is not the way to bring about change,” she said, arguing that any such pressure will “cause them to segregate against attacks from the outside and to protect their values.
She also defended the haredim against what she referred to as constant slurs which paint them as idlers living off others.
“Half of them do work,” she said.
Not afraid to criticize the Left as well as the Right, Michaeli argued that in order to be a leader in Israel, you have to frighten people.
“Fear is a very bad guideline,” she said, without elaborating.
“Israel is not the victim it conceives itself to be. It is the strong side in this neighborhood these days,” added Michaeli.
She lambasted Netanyahu for creating an aura of fear with regard to Iran, and was equally critical of the Left for using other fear tactics to get the people to sit up and take notice.
Despite the fact that the haredi parties are not in the current government coalition, Michaeli warned, little would change in matters of religion and state under national-religious leadership, which is no less rigid than the haredim despite their smiles and smaller, colored kippot.
“There will [still] be no civil marriages,” she declared.