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On Palestinian issue, 'alternatives' to Netanyahu hold similar positions to PM

Labor leader Yacimovich asks not to be called a ‘lefty’ and shows hospitable face to the settlers, while Yair Lapid rejects compromising on the issue of Jerusalem.

“Pragmatism” (by Mysh Rozanov)

The heads of the two leading parties to the left of Netanyahu have made statements on the Palestinian issue this past week which place them very close to the prime minister. Yair Lapid, leader of the newly formed Yesh Atid party, declared that it is possible to keep all of Jerusalem in Israeli hands, if and when a Palestinian state is formed. Shelly Yacimovich of Labor gave an interview to the settler website Arutz 7 in which she declared that Labor is not a left wing party. It is presumed that either Yacimovich or Lapid will serve in Netanyahu’s next government, if not both of them.

Yacimovich has shown again her desire to distance herself from the Palestinian issue:

I think that for too many years the public debate was left or right, the whole land of Israel [for Israel] or not the whole land… the time has come in these elections to not vote only on a diplomatic agenda…

Q: Is Labor a leftist or a centrist party?

Calling Labor left is historically unfair. Labor has always drawn its power from being a centrist party, a party that wants a pragmatic peace and doesn’t dream dreams. The pragmatic approach of Labor is two states for two people… land swaps and keeping 80 percent of the settlers… any diplomatic move should be made out of national consensus and not out of hate or incitement [against the settlers – N.S]

Yair Lapid has declared on several occasions that he will not agree to a divided Jerusalem. In a meeting with security establishment veterans, Lapid said this week that if Israel insists, the Palestinians could be persuaded to give up on Jerusalem. Currently, there are 300,000 Palestinians living in the annexed part of Jerusalem. They have limited civil rights and they cannot vote to the Knesset. According to Lapid, under a final status agreement, Palestinians in Jerusalem should be made Israeli citizens.

In the past, Lapid has also demanded that his party would not be referred to as part of a “left” bloc in the Knesset.

A few words of commentary: There is a lot of wishful thinking going around regarding the chances to beat Netanyahu in the upcoming Israeli elections, especially given the results of the U.S. elections. But if there is one thing we could have learned from Tuesday night, it is that polls are usually right, or that one should try to avoid projecting desires onto them. Polls in Israel are very consistent, and so far none – none! – have shown Netanyahu without a ruling majority. The recent declarations show that beneath all the levels of rhetoric on “campaigning to win,” both Lapid and Yacimovich recognize this, and thus are leaving the doors open for future collaborations with Bibi.

Lapid and Yacimovich are not identical in their positions – Lapid wants Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians but there isn’t a serious Palestinian who would sign on to his ideas, while Yacimovich simply wants to avoid the occupation altogether. Still, those variations are minor, and both politicians, who are selling themselves as the alternative to Netanyahu, betray the unspoken understanding that the Israeli public is satisfied with the current status quo. Political competition in Israel is indeed fierce, but it should not be mistaken for an argument over the occupation. Even in the unlikely event of a Netanyahu loss, Israeli policy won’t change.

Related:
One or two states? The status quo is Israel’s rational choice
Knesset Poll Tracker

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Piotr Berman

      How is the name of Labor leader pronounced in Hebrew? I see different versions of the spelling, Yachimovich and Yacimovich, the first seems to be a spelling of a Polish/Russian Jewish name.

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        Pronounced Yakhimovitch in Hebrew.

        Reply to Comment
    2. In the present Israeli political economy, the One State outcome seem inevitable. Perhaps an articulated alternative to the present social economy in Israel proper would provide a future accounting mechanism for how the occupation limits possibility. But, otherwise, out of sight, never mind: security is a social good, its cost borne only by the outsider.

      Another post today on +972 shows a small, seemingly meaningless protest in the West Bank, nonviolent on all sides, perhaps indication of a civil space which will grow. Such small, national right laughable events may be baby steps towards a future resolution of the One State outcome. There ultimately will be violence. But an alternative may also form, unnoticed save in present snicker. The path is long, but evidenced there.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Greg, please, 1SS is not an inevitable outcome.

        1SS was an option until 1987; now however it is not possible even theoretically:
        1 – Israel won’t be able to annex de-jure Palestinian State. The very legality of Palestinian State declaration is rather questionable – not clear by what right terrorist group declared independence of a territory while having no sovereignty of ever 1 sq. in. of it but since it was (illegally?) recognized by some UN members it creates rather problematic problem.

        2 – some 7 000 000 Palestinians would hardly agree to remain stateless.
        Obviously RoR won’t be granted in either case.

        3 – After years of terror MOST Israelis really have EXTREMELY little desire to have all and any Palestinian neighbors.

        p.s. I don’t think that within 1000 km. radius from Tel Aviv there is at least one person how honestly believes that peaceful 1SS is possible.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Adam Greenstein

      Very good. Clearheaded as always.

      There’s tons of delusions floating around, but as you said, if there is one thing we should have learned then it is that polls are consistent.

      And Bibi will most likely win. And even if he doesn’t win an outright right-bloc majority, his list will be the biggest, so he gets to be the kingmaker.

      Also, don’t forget that last time, Kadima actually had one seat more and yet it was Bibi who got to form a government.

      The status quo of more and more settlements and an even stronger rejectionist stance to peace will continue whoever wins.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Richard Witty

      Please don’t give such power to polls. You disempower yourself by doing so, no chance of changing hearts and minds, parties, policies.

      It’s ok to emphasize other issues than the occupation.

      It’s not ok to dehumanize the Palestinians living under it.

      Reply to Comment

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