Encountering Peace: The real danger of another Netanyahu government

It is believed that Netanyahu as prime minister will immediately pass the so-called “French Law,” postponing his court trial for years to come.

A map with the colors of the Palestinian flag reading 'Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine' near Bilin.  (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
A map with the colors of the Palestinian flag reading 'Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine' near Bilin.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
It bewilders me that so many Israelis voted for a candidate who has been indicted for breach of trust, fraud and bribery. It is remarkable that most of those voters support the strategic weakening of our watchdogs that were created to keep our government clean. They believe that the watchdogs protect and act on behalf of the Ashkenazi elites which they are not part of.
It is astounding that so many of those voters believe that our justice system – including the police, the attorney-general and the state prosecutor – have fabricated the cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And as a Netanyahu supporter told me on Election Day, “Even if he did what they say, I don’t care. He is such a good prime minister and so good for us, the best presenter for Israel we ever had. Who cares if he stole some money or broke the law?”
There has been much attention given in the media regarding the feared threats to our justice system if Netanyahu is successful in forming a new government. So many publicists and politicians have been speaking about the impending end of our democracy.
It is believed that Netanyahu as prime minister will immediately pass the so-called “French Law,” postponing his court trial for years to come. It is also believed that he will pass a law that will remove the ability of the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of laws. In Israel’s political system, in which the Legislative branch is extremely weak – basically serving the executive branch – the checks and balances of governance would be totally removed, and Netanyahu would become the executive head of state with almost total power.
This is a great concern to those of us who believe that the heart of democracy is not only in the principle of majority rule and the rule of law, but perhaps even more so in the equality of all citizens under the law and in the preservation and protection of rights of all, including and especially minorities.
But Netanyahu’s victory troubles me more for another reason. Netanyahu’s victory, should he succeed in forming a right-wing religious narrow government, will signal the formal end of the two-state solution. Netanyahu’s only alternative is the Trump-Netanyahu “Deal of the Century,” which is not at all acceptable to the Palestinians and most of the Arab world.
The one-sided implementation of annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel will be seen by the Palestinians as a declaration of war against them. It will also be seen in Jordan by a majority of the public there (who are Palestinians) as a declaration of war against the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, and will provide more legitimacy for calling for the king to cancel the treaty. It will lead to the official declaration by the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza that there is no longer any understanding reached under the Oslo Accords.
FOR THE young generation of Palestinians, a majority of whom already no longer support a two-state solution, it will grant license to changing the discourse of two states and peace into a discourse of human and civil rights.
In our context that means, first and foremost, the right to vote: one person, one vote, in one state. For now, it doesn’t matter if it is called Israel and its national symbols and identity are Jewish. Within a very short time there will be a Palestinian majority between the river and the sea. That is the end of the Zionist enterprise and the Jewish State of Israel.
The failure of a new Netanyahu government to offer anything genuine to the Palestinian people that would lead to self-determination poses the one and only existential threat to the State of Israel. There are many people who now see Oslo as a trap that was invented in order to keep Palestinians (and many Israelis) within an illusion of possible peace based on two states for two people, and that there was really never any intention to end the occupation and to grant the Palestinians freedom, liberation and independence.
With a new Netanyahu right-wing religious government, the illusion is over and the reality of unending occupation and no chance of peace is now the playbook that will reshape our reality.
No people, including the Palestinian people, will ever agree to forever be subservient and unequal. They will fight for their rights and they will be 100% justified to do so. This will undoubtedly lead to more violence, death and destruction. That is horrible for all of us on both sides of the conflict. It also presents us all with a new challenge: What do we do in the absent of the possibility of partition of the land between the river and the sea and the creation of two states?
The hard-core right wing (not sure that Netanyahu is part of this group) hopes that the new processes will lead to the fall of the Hashemites in Jordan, and that Jordan will become Palestine. That will be the open door to a new policy of transfer of Palestinians from Palestine to the new Palestine east of the Jordan. This is a scenario that is possible.
For the Zionists left in Israel (what’s left of it) and the supporters of the Joint List (Jews and Arabs), a new political agenda must be developed that no longer speaks of two states for two people but rather focuses on developing a shared society of Jews and Arabs in one state. If the two-state solution is dead, there is now a need to develop a new platform which is rights-based and focuses on democracy.

The writer is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to the State of Israel and to peace between Israel and her neighbors. His latest book, In Pursuit of Peace in Israel and Palestine, was published by Vanderbilt University Press.