Netanyahu wants to divide Jews, Right from Left, Israel from world

It should be stated from the outset that the Israel of 2020 does not want to achieve peace.

‘NETANYAHU IS no Begin. Netanyahu is not made from the same material that makes someone a successful politician, who wins at the polling stations and serves as a national leader.’ (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
‘NETANYAHU IS no Begin. Netanyahu is not made from the same material that makes someone a successful politician, who wins at the polling stations and serves as a national leader.’
I am opposed to both of the radical right-wing camps that are currently quarreling over what unilateral annexation really means. One camp supports the unilateral annexation proposed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and that is apparently supported by Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, provided the annexation does not end up in any way turning into consent for the establishment of a Palestinian state. The second camp, which is also made up of radical right-wingers, opposes unilateral annexation since it fears this would require that the Israeli government accept US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” which entails establishing a Palestinian state.
The prime minister wants both. In his duplicitous way, he’s in favor of annexation since it apparently concurs with the Trump plan, and purports to be in favor of accepting the Trump plan, provided that at the end of the day he will not need to agree to the creation of a Palestinian state. His verbal assent at this stage will enable him to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria to create the illusion that he is cooperating with the idea of establishing a Palestinian state, when in reality using the same method he’s perfected throughout his many years of service: he will do everything in his power to mislead the Palestinians, the Americans and the entire international community.
These three camps – the radical right that conveys the impression that it’s opposed to annexation, the radical right that gives the appearance that it supports annexation and, lastly, the Netanyahu camp – are trying to cheat, deceive and stall for time. They are trying to strengthen Israel’s hold on these territories, to push the Palestinians into a corner from which there is no way out and thwart every real possibility for holding peace negotiations between Israel and the official representatives of the Palestinian people, which could assist the Palestinians in attaining their national vision.
It should be stated from the outset that the Israel of 2020 does not want to achieve peace. I repeat this even though these are harsh words that perhaps have never been uttered by someone who is part of the national camp. The time has come, however, to scream these words before the entire region sinks into disarray. Israel is quickly losing its identity, its moral foundation and feeling of internal solidarity among its various communities, without which our country might tear itself apart. This could lead to internal power struggles and, heaven forbid, perhaps something even worse.
Prime minister Menachem Begin rightly earned international fame as the first leader of the State of Israel to have the courage to make peace with an Arab country. Egypt was a hostile, belligerent country that at times was even cruel in its confrontation with Israel. In the peace agreement, Begin conceded all of the land that Israel occupied during the Six Day War and continued to hold onto even after the Yom Kippur War. He had the rare courage of a statesman with the foresight to disengage from the determined and resolute stances he had expressed for many years since 1967. In the moment of truth, when he had the real opportunity to reach a peace agreement, he reversed his position by 180 degrees and gave up everything he had promised he would never give to the other side.
He made declarations and engaged in bombastic demagoguery and casual populism, but when the time came, Begin acted with wisdom, responsibility, and incredible historic foresight and changed his stance in order to make peace.
Begin’s greatest historical achievement, for which he will be remembered until the end of days, though, took place even before the establishment of the State of Israel, when he was the commander of the Irgun. More than once, Begin faced fierce and difficult confrontations with what was at that time the leadership of the Jewish community in Israel, and David Ben-Gurion, the political leader of the Jewish Agency.
The friction between the Irgun and Ben-Gurion’s Hagana gave birth to the Saison (Hunting Season), during which the Hagana attempted to suppress the Irgun’s insurgency against the British Mandate. In some instances, Irgun operatives were subjected to cruel and harsh torture and sometimes handed over to the British army commanders, despite the risk that the British might execute them. And of course, there is the Altalena affair, the ship upon which the Irgun was transporting weapons that was hit with a barrage of rifle fire by the newly formed Israeli army under the orders of Ben-Gurion. By the end of the day, 23 Irgun operatives on board the ship, most of whom were Holocaust survivors, had been killed during the attack.
Under normal circumstances of internal controversy, and after the attack on the Altalena, these sparks could have led to the outbreak of a civil war that would have completely destroyed the chances of a Jewish state arising, especially considering the expected attacks by neighboring Arab nations. Who knows how close we were to failing in our efforts to establish the State of Israel? The Jewish state might never have been formed if it were not for the famous sentence uttered by Begin, which will be recorded in the annals of history: “Civil war – never!” These few simple, poignant and uncompromising words turned the tide of history.
Bibi, however, is not Begin. There are no similarities between the two. Bibi is not made from the same material that makes someone who is a successful politician, who can win elections in the polling stations into a national statesman. Netanyahu wants internal conflict, even if it leads to violence between Jewish residents of the State of Israel, creates a complete rift between Israeli and the Diaspora over the unilateral annexation issue and encourages the occupation and oppression of another people, who will rise up against us using political and economic tools that can cause the State of Israel damage that, heaven forbid, could lead to the collapse of our society.
I am aware that these are harsh words that will probably be quoted in public discourse in Israel and perhaps in comments that may come from outside of Israel, especially since they were written by one of the only 12 prime ministers who served in the short history of the State of Israel.
But the moment of truth has arrived, and we cannot escape the need to say things as they are out loud, without any artificial packaging or smooth remarks. No longer should we stand for this fake attempt at political correctness that does not exist in Israeli public discourse.
For more than 10 years, the State of Israel has not been interested in reaching a peace agreement. We are masters at patting ourselves on the shoulder, but this cannot cover up for Israeli politicians’ stubborn refusal to take even one small step to try to alter the environment, which might convince our past enemies, who signed agreements that could lead to negotiations, to return to the negotiating table, which in turn could lead to a peace agreement.
Our routine debate on this issue usually ends with the claim that the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity to achieve peace. For a few decades, this really was a reasonable claim. And it was also true during my term as prime minister that under the leadership of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians missed the opportunity to agree to a generous, responsible and far-reaching offer that met all the essential expectations of the Palestinian national movement. Abbas was incapable, for various reasons which I don’t justify and I am not able to explain to accept our offer.
He refrained from saying yes then, and since that time has not missed an opportunity to claim that if Israel’s enemies of peace hadn’t ousted me from the position of prime minister, we could have reached a peace agreement, and today we would be celebrating a decade of peaceful coexistence.
Even if it is true that we were remarkably close to achieving peace – and it is true that the negotiations we held in 2007 and 2008 were serious, based on personal trust and promises of good neighborly relations for both parties at the most crucial moment, Abbas refused to accept our peace proposal that might have changed the history of our tormented and blood-filled region.
It would be misleading, however, if we failed to acknowledge that since Netanyahu began his tenure as prime minister in April 2009, Israel has been doing everything in its power to thwart every initiative aimed at creating dialogue that could lead to peace negotiations with the same Palestinian leadership that declares every time the opportunity arises in the West Bank, Ramallah, in the capital of every Arab country and every western country, it opposes terrorism and violence and supports the solution of two countries for two peoples, who will live side by side in good neighborly relations.
We’ve thwarted all of the efforts the international community has put forward, in particular the initiatives promoted by former US secretary of state John Kerry to avoid the need to make a decision. It’s true this decision involved taking a risk, a decision that is lacking absolute certainty that everything that will be agreed upon will be fulfilled, but that could have created a completely different dynamic between us and the Palestinians. Peace is not attained the day a peace agreement is signed. It starts on that day and then continues for the rest of time. We wanted settlements, and so we invested billions of shekels in an effort to improve the infrastructure of the settlements in a completely disproportionate way considering the number of Israelis living there, which came at the expense of the rest of the Israeli population’s essential needs.
We’ve continued with a disrespectful rule over the Palestinians that live under the whims of Israeli military control for more than 50 years. We’ve humiliated and denounced their elected leaders that have never stopped cooperating with our security forces in an effort to thwart terrorist acts. Instead, we have cooperated with the Hamas leadership that we swore to eradicate. We’ve campaigned against the international community that opposed Israel’s control over the territories and turned then-US president Barack Obama into an enemy, and supported his political opponents who tried to bring him down.
At the end of 10 wasted years, US President Donald Trump put his pretentious “Deal of the Century” on the international discussion table. We cannot say that Trump is an enemy of Israel as we directly or indirectly said about Obama. Trump is considered a true friend of Israel by every political group and community here. We cannot reject his plan outright.
There is, however, have one big problem with it: As much as he is the “greatest friend Israel has ever had” - as Netanyahu loves to say - he still supports the creation of a Palestinian state. We can criticize specific sections of his plan, and reject components that we deem unacceptable, but it would be extremely difficult and untruthful to say that Trump is an enemy of Israel.
How can one escape from the trap of the Trump plan? Netanyahu will engage his usual method of using guile, trickery, pretense, deception and incitement. The incitement begins with calling Arab-Israelis and their representatives in the Knesset traitors who yearn for the destruction of Israel. The incitement continues by characterizing people who don’t identify with the radical right as leftists who collaborate with Israel’s enemies. It ends, in Netanyahu’s finest tradition, with an attempt to isolate, denounce and humiliate anyone who disapproves of his fraudulent antics, even if they are Jews and members of the national camp who are loyal to the existence, prosperity and future of the State of Israel.
Netanyahu prays that riots like the ones currently taking place in the US will erupt in Israel, too, so that he will be able to deepen the rift that already exists in Israel today. And when the time comes, he will take steps that have already been given backing during the orchestrated struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, namely tracking, identifying, locating and chasing after citizens who find the courage to say that he incites, instigates and encourages divisiveness.
Will he have the courage to carry out his commitment to unilaterally annex portions of the West Bank, and risk creating turmoil that will endanger the stability of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, one of our most important allies? Will he have the courage to carry out his commitment and spark a fireball of terrorist activity in the territories, as well as deepen the rift between Jews and Arabs, between Jews and other Jews, between the right and left-wing camps, between various right-wing groups and, ultimately, between Israel and the US and our friends all around the world?
All Netanyahu wants and needs is to discover a formula to deceive the Palestinians, Yamina and Trump.
Is all this possible?
So much depends on the ability, determination and fortitude of the people in Israel who believe in peace, who long for leaders who are willing to go back to the negotiating table and are disgusted by the crook who is trying to turn our lives into a living hell.
The writer was the 12th prime minister of Israel.