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PODCAST: What does Israeli liberalism look like?

Public opinion expert Dahlia Scheindlin argues that the fierce debate over the separation of religion and state in Israel’s latest elections could lead to a wider liberal shift in society.

By +972 Magazine Staff

Listen here: iTunes/Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify

Almost two weeks after Israeli voters cast their ballots for a second time this year, it is still unclear which candidate will lead the country. To make sense of all this, The +972 Podcast spoke with leading public opinion analyst Dahlia Scheindlin, who says not much has changed since the April elections. 

On the outcome of elections:

“It’s hard to see where we’re going to get any sort of real change of direction for Israel.”

“What didn’t change is the uncertainty of who’s going to lead the country, the general ideological breakdown of the voters in Israeli society, and what probably won’t change is the basic direction Israel is taking with relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and foreign affairs.”

Internally, “maybe there will be a difference in the balance around religion and state.”

On the appeal of Benny Gantz:

“We’ve been living with Benny Gantz since December, and I don’t know a thing about him. Israelis like him because he brings with him the general aura of appreciation and trust that 90 percent of Israelis have in the IDF. That’s a number that’s very stable over the years.”

On the potential liberal shift in Israel:

“The parties have identified a politically expedient niche in the Israeli set of ideas,” says Scheindlin. When parties talk about establishing a liberal government, “what they really mean is a secular government, or a government without the ultra-Orthodox.”

The debate over the separation of religion and state “is not new, but it became a new arena of political competition in these elections,” and it started with Liberman, explains Scheindlin. “It speaks to a slice of right-wingers that are secular, who want to vote for a right wing party but are really concerned about religious encroachment on public life. So, [Liberman] went for that slice, and that slice is not so small.”

Parties in Israel are trying to define liberalism “by one specific axis. Ultimately, that will open people’s eyes to all the other related values of a liberal society. I don’t think we’re there yet....

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Netanyahu’s exit could make it harder to fight occupation from the outside

Without a cartoon villain to rail against, the energy required to end the occupation is in danger of dissipating.

By Aron Keller

Given that Benjamin Netanyahu presided over the rightward shift of Israeli society and the hollowing out of its democratic institutions, the prospect of seeing his decade-long grip on the Prime Minister’s Office end should be a reason for liberals to celebrate. For the millions of Palestinians who have suffered as a direct result of his government’s policies, though, the end of the Netanyahu era could prove to be a mixed blessing.

‘Like Pepsi and Coke’ was how Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh described the differences between the main candidates. In other words, the lived reality of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza won’t change when Netanyahu is out of office; the system of violence and discrimination that deprives them of basic human rights is as robust as ever and it now contains the added threat of annexation of the Jordan Valley, as promised by both Netanyahu and his potential successor, Benny Gantz.

Yet by virtue of simply not being Netanyahu, and despite running a bellicose campaign focusing on his military credentials, Gantz is considered by many in the international community — including the editorial boards of The Guardian and the New York Times — to be a more palatable option. They assume that a Gantz-led government would be more open to peace negotiations, or at least to restoring liberal democratic norms within Israel. Others hope that a new Israeli prime minister might alleviate the tension between Israel and progressive Jews abroad, many of whom have been appalled by Netanyahu’s chauvinism and his close relationship to Donald Trump.

This misplaced optimism contributes to a culture of complacency, which could make Palestinian solidarity much more difficult. To be sure, Netanyahu is a symptom rather than the cause of Israel’s growing contempt for democracy; but through his unabashed racism and embrace of the global far-right, he has become a lightning-rod for anti-occupation activism. Without a cartoon villain to rail against, the energy required to end the occupation is in danger of dissipating. How can we maintain a sense of urgency around the issue?

These are some of the questions motivating the work of diaspora-based anti-occupation groups like Na’amod, of which I am a member. Na’amod is a movement of...

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My humiliation does not make Israel more secure

The 100-mile journey of leaving Gaza took 12 hours, six checkpoints, and interrogations so humiliating that a year later, I am still reliving the trauma.

By Anas Almassri

On July 31, 2018 the Palestinian Civil Affairs office called me at 10:08 a.m., while I was sitting at my desk in Gaza on what had begun as an ordinary workday morning. The caller informed me that the Israeli authorities had issued my permit to leave Gaza in order to study abroad, and that I had to depart immediately. “The [deportation] shuttle is waiting for you,” said the caller. “You must make a decision now: you either leave right now or you lose the permit.”

I was stunned. Just a few days earlier, the very same Israeli authorities had rejected my application for an exit visa; since then I had received no updates. Now, if I wanted to leave, I would have to walk away from my desk and head straight to Erez Crossing. I would not have time to say goodbye to my family, to hug my parents or my siblings. I would not even have time to pack my clothes, or withdraw cash from the bank to cover my travel expenses.

Worse still was the uncertainty. The Palestinian authorities were telling me that the Israelis had approved my visa even as the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, which had mediated on my behalf with the Israeli authorities, said that my request for an exit permit had been rejected.

I had three or four minutes to decide, under incredible pressure, while thinking about all the things I had to leave behind: my clothes, my laptop with all my files on it, the friends from whom I had no time to take my leave, the words of love and support I desperately needed from family and loved ones. I did not even have time to inform my employer.

I decided to go. Leaving my laptop open on my desk with my assignment unfinished, I went to my rented room in Gaza City, just a 30-minute drive from my family home. I took my passport and Jordanian non-objection confirmation, and went to the Erez Crossing.

A representative from the U.S. Consulate called again while I was traveling to Erez, to say that my permit had not been issued. Then, there was another call, again from Palestinian Civil Affairs, to say that my permit...

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Palestinian women walk the tightrope of toxic 'shame' and occupation

The murder of a young Palestinian woman at the hands of her family highlights what many Palestinian women have been saying all along: The struggle against patriarchy and gender-based violence cannot be separated from the fight against Israel’s occupation.

By Nooran Alhamdan

Israa Ghrayeb, a young Palestinian woman from the Bethlehem area, lived her life like any young woman: she went to work, spent time with friends, had hobbies. A true fashionista, Israa took great care in matching her scarves with her name brand t-shirts and sneakers. She ran an Instagram page attracting thousands of followers, in which she featured makeup tutorials and styling advice.

In August, Israa was reportedly killed by her own family members for posting a photo of herself with her fiancé on that same Instagram page. Her father, brother and brother-in-law beat her into a spinal fracture with their bare hands. After treating her fatal injuries without questioning their cause, the hospital released her. Days later, she was brought to the hospital again — dead.

The details of Israa’s case are still unraveling, but perhaps it is the normalcy of Israa’s life that makes the horror of her death resonate with so many women across the globe. That very normalcy is also what shatters our assumption that patriarchal oppression manifests only in certain ways, challenging our perception of what we consider the “ultimately oppressed” woman.

Israa’s murder is proving to be a crossroads for women’s rights in Palestine. When news of her killing broke first broke, with a video circulating on social media of what is believed to be Israa screaming while her family members continue beating her at the hospital, thousands of Palestinian women showed an outpouring of solidarity. Weeks after her murder, on Thursday, Feminist activists in Haifa, Yafa, Ramallah, Gaza and Beirut are taking to the streets to protest against gender-based violence and for women’s rights.

Across Palestine and all over social media, women are calling for justice for Israa, demanding that law enforcement take protecting women more seriously. Many are drawing a clear connection between Israa’s murder and the patriarchal violence they themselves experience, proclaiming that they refuse to be held hostage in the crosshairs of “honor” and the Israeli occupation.

This solidarity inspired me to ask Palestinian women about their experiences with so-called honor. What I found was a resounding expression of resilience in the face of stifling...

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Elections reveal a seismic split within Israel's right

Once the ascendant elite, the settler movement’s political power is on the decline.

By Meron Rapoport

While political analysts wonder if we have come to the end of the Netanyahu era, little attention is being paid to another major outcome of this election — that is, the decline of the national religious movement’s political power. Once, these self-described lords of the land believed they were well on their way to becoming Israel’s new political and cultural elite. But the numbers show that their political influence is waning.

The Likud has always been at the center of the right wing bloc. In recent decades, it absorbed the parties that represent three major demographic groups: the ultra-Orthodox, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and the national religious or settler movement. Netanyahu created a coherent political bloc, which promised a near-axiomatic right wing majority in each election.

Netanyahu made the consolidation of the right wing bloc his political life’s work, based on the belief that this was the best way to prevent a Palestinian state. So, he strengthened Likud’s connection with the national religious camp, because their loyalty to the Land of Israel was beyond question — in contrast to the Likud’s old base, which is more interested in libertarianism than in territorial expansionism. This is one of the reasons that Netanyahu surrounded himself with people who wear the crocheted-style yarmulke favored by national religious settlers.

The April election caused a rift in the right wing bloc, with the parties representing the ultra-Orthodox and voters from the former Soviet Union pulling back from the national religious ideologues, whose worldview they do not share. They were never particularly interested in either the idea of controlling the Biblical Greater Land of Israel, nor in the settlement project.

Liberman didn’t have to work very hard to convince his base of secular hawks from the former Soviet Union that the ultra-Orthodox were their greatest enemy. The ultra-Orthodox are the ones who question their Jewish identity and try to impose their religious lifestyle on them, with their refusal to allow public transportation on the Sabbath and their attempts to control the sale of non-kosher foods. The ultra-Orthodox fought back.



In the Sept. 17 elections, both groups came ahead, with Liberman raising his party’s five mandates to eight and the ultra-Orthodox increasing...

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Why Israelis are going to the polls for a second time this year

Five things you should know about the second Israeli national elections in six months.

By +972 Magazine Staff

How do Israeli elections work?

Israel is a multi-party system, which means several parties will be competing for citizens’ votes come Election Day. There are 5.8 million Israeli citizens who are eligible to vote this time. Of the 6,463,000 Palestinians who live under Israeli control, only 24 percent are defined as citizens with the right to vote. The rest are completely disenfranchised.

A party must pass the 3.25 percent electoral threshold to be a part of the parliament. Since Israeli elections are based on proportional representation, the number of seats each party receives is proportional to the number of votes they win.

Once the Central Elections Committee announces the final election results, the president tasks the head of the party with the most votes with building a coalition, meaning securing at least 61 of the 120 Knesset seats. In cases where no party has a clear lead in the votes, the president could decide to approach the candidate who is most likely to successfully put together a coalition.

Why are there national elections again, six months after the previous round?

One of the consequences of a multi-party system is that no one party wins a clear majority of seats, which makes governing coalitions both necessary and, by definition, unstable. When Avigdor Liberman, who has held top ministries under Netanyahu’s leadership, resigned abruptly as defense minister in 2018, the loss of his party’s six seats caused the collapse of Netanyahu’s coalition. And so elections were called for April 2019.

The Likud won the most seats in the April election, but Netanyahu failed to build a coalition within the given timeframe, which is why another election was announced for Sept. 17. 


How are these elections different?

In general, not much is different about these elections. The size of the voting blocs is the same, and the right is likely to win a majority of seats, as they have for the last decade.

The Central Elections Committee ruled that operating cameras at polling stations is illegal. The decision came in response to a fierce debate triggered by a voter intimidation campaign that targeted Palestinian voters in the last elections. A settler-aligned public relations firm and Netanyahu’s Likud party placed around 1,300 cameras...

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Israel's Ashkenazi elites won't let Mizrahim lead the left

More than 70 years after Israel was founded, the old Ashkenazi guard of the Israeli left is still doing everything in its power to prevent Mizrahim and other oppressed groups from taking the reins.

By Lev Grinberg

Give or take a few seats, it seems things will remain much as they were following Election Day on Tuesday, with the right- and left-wing blocs winning a near-identical amount of Knesset seats as they did in the last elections. And yet, despite what looks to be a similar outcome, it is worth examining the shift that has taken place inside what is commonly referred to as the Israeli left over the last few months.

Following the results of the last elections held in April, some of the smaller parties teetering on the brink of extinction sought to save themselves by joining forces with the larger parties. Moshe Kahlon’s centrist Kulanu party became part of Likud, the New Right party morphed into the Union of Right-Wing Parties, the Arab Balad-Ta’al and Hadash-Ra’am parties resuscitated the Joint List, Labor joined up with Orly Levy’s Gesher party (which did not pass the election threshold the last time around), and the left-wing Meretz teamed up with Ehud Barak and Stav Shaffir to form the Democratic Union.

On the center-left, these attempts at survival have led to long-simmering tensions between the old elites and those who want to represent long-oppressed communities in Israel, primarily Mizrahi Israelis.

The fall of the Ashkenazi elite

Following the implosion of the Oslo Accords in 2001, famed Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling published a short book titled “The End of Ashkenazi Hegemony,” detailing the downfall of the Ashkenazi secular elite that had ruled Israel since the first days of the state.



Kimmerling defined the founders of the pre-state Zionist institutions and later on the State of Israel as secular, veteran, Ashkenazi, socialist, and nationalist. This group molded the collective Israeli identity in their image (European, secular and modern), established the ruling Mapai party, controlled the economy, and dominated Israeli culture. All other groups that made up Israeli society were subjugated by this elite, including Arab citizens and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Jewish immigrants from Arab countries were forced into an Israeli “melting pot,” which compelled them to ditch their Arab culture in order to integrate into society, while being sent to far-flung, undeveloped areas of the new state where they replaced the Palestinians expelled during the 1948 war.

According to Kimmerling,...

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PODCAST: Will Netanyahu's attempt to suppress the Palestinian vote backfire?

In the lead up to the Sept. 17 elections, Benjamin Netanyahu has escalated his racist incitement against Palestinians. The +972 Podcast talks to Adalah’s Sawsan Zaher about how these attacks are affecting Palestinian voters.

Listen here: iTunes/Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify

Facebook temporarily suspended Benjamin Netanyahu’s official Facebook page Thursday after followers received a message calling on voters to prevent the establishment of a government with Arabs “who want to annihilate us all.”

Netanyahu said the message was a staffer’s mistake, but as the country prepares for a second national election in the span of six months, he has intensified his racist incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Whereas in 2015, he tried to appeal to his voter base by warning of Arabs going to vote “in droves,” now he is openly accusing Palestinian voters of voter fraud and of “stealing” the elections. There is no evidence that voter fraud is more common among Palestinian citizens.

On Election Day in April, a settler-aligned public relations firm and Netanyahu’s Likud party led a voter intimidation campaign targeting Palestinian voters, placing around 1,300 cameras exclusively in Arab or Arab-majority areas. This contributed to the lowest voter participation rate among Palestinian voters in decades.

“We know for sure that in the April 2019 election the cameras did affect the number of people who went out to vote,” says Sawsan Zaher, deputy general director and an attorney at Adalah, the legal center for Palestinian rights in Israel, on the latest episode of The +972 Podcast.

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For Palestinian voters, who make up 16 percent of the voting population in Israel, the Sept. 17 elections — which, in some ways, are the first following the passing of the Jewish-Nation State Law — are about “survival,” says Zaher. “It’s all the time the struggle of first of all, keeping our voice. Second of all, trying to challenge racist laws and policies. Third of all, trying to keep our voice of calling for equality and the end of the occupation.”

While the Joint List, the slate...

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What do Palestinians in Gaza really think about the Israeli elections?

On the eve of the elections, four young Palestinians in Gaza open up about their thoughts on Israeli political parties, whether they think there’s hope for change, and what life is like under siege. 

By Yuval Abraham


The electricity cuts out at 2pm in Gaza, but Muhammad has charged his phone in advance so he’ll have enough battery for our conversation. I call him on Facebook Video, and when he answers, he’s wearing a white vest and dripping with sweat. “Is it this hot where you are too?” he laughs, and I nod, look over at the fan in my room.

I’ve known Muhammad for a little over a year. He was the first person from Gaza I ever spoke to. He works as a physiotherapist at a government hospital, and has experienced Gaza’s wars through the injuries he’s had to treat. He starts our conversation with a warning: “I’m not worth your while interviewing. I don’t have anything to say about the Israeli elections, because they don’t interest me,” he says. “Firstly, because I’m drowning in day-to-day problems in Gaza. We’re not being paid our doctors’ wages, and the noise from the drones is driving me crazy.” He glances upwards, and imitates the humming of Israeli military drones. “The buzzing won’t leave me alone. It’s there constantly, over my head, in the sky. I hear it in my room, in the office — everywhere.

“The second reason I’m not interested in the elections,” Muhammad continues, smiling bitterly, “is that I don’t think it matters who wins. [Israel’s] policy toward Gaza won’t change. I heard about their other leader, the general who’s competing against Netanyahu from the Blue and White party — what’s his name? ‘Gantz’? Right. Him. I saw him boasting about killing loads of Palestinians in Gaza, and promising that he’d continue this level of force against us. In other words, Netanyahu by a different name.”

Even though he’s not interested in the elections, Muhammad still knows three of the parties: Blue and White, Likud, and the Joint List (for whom he would vote, if he could). He says that Facebook has made it easier for people to follow what’s happening in Israel these days. Most of his knowledge about the elections has come from social media.

“It wasn’t like this 10 years ago. Now, everyone can easily see what Israeli leaders are publishing online,” he says. “I hear...

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Are voters about to send Kahanists back to the Knesset?

If the polls are accurate, more than 140,000 voters will vote the Kahanists back into the Knesset in next week’s election. Yet the desire for a pure Jewish state long ago moved from the margins of Israeli society to the mainstream.

By Ron Cahlili

One week before Israel’s national election, nearly every major poll shows the Kahanist party Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) winning enough votes to cross the threshold. Until recently, the party was widely considered the rotten apples of the Israeli political barrel — a fringe party that represented a tiny subculture. Now it looks likely to take four seats in the Knesset. To put the matter into perspective, the once-dominant Labor — Ben Gurion and Golda Meir’s party — is barely holding on.

The ideology of Otzma Yehudit is hatred of Arabs. Some, by the way, might remember that Netanyahu backed the Kahanist party in the last election. So now hatred of Arabs as a political ideology is part of the mainstream political discourse. More than 140,000 Israeli citizens will likely cast their votes against what is left of a sane and peace-seeking Israel.

More than 140,000 people will declare that they want a pure Jewish state, Arab-rein forever. They don’t actually mind a few Arabs here and there, as long as the latter know their place in the racial hierarchy. The Jewish Israeli is on top, and the Arab joins the leftists and the other foreigners at the bottom rung. No kuffiyeh or hijab. No mosque or muezzin. Only minimal presence, like a passing shadow.

If this does indeed come to fruition (and even if the Kahanists only receive 100,000 votes), the mechanisms of anti-Arab hatred that have been part of the State of Israel since its establishment will have reaped what it sowed.

This includes an education system that does not teach anything about Arab culture or history; an army that turned Arabs into targets that need to be “neutralized”; a mainstream media that presents Arabs as either terrorists or ignorant peasants; social media outlets in which hate speech against Arabs is posted every 71 seconds; a right-wing government that turned incitement against the Arabs into a legitimate tool of governance; the left-wing alternatives compete with one another over who killed more Arabs. All of these will receive a bonus next week, their work having exceeded expectations.

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How the rising power of the Arab electorate is thwarting Netanyahu

The prime minister didn’t reckon with the rising power of the Arab electorate. For the first time, he’s seeing his anti-Arab incitement stymied by old-fashioned realpolitik.

By Meron Rapoport

Netanyahu probably did not really believe he would be allowed to pass into law a bill permitting camera surveillance in polling stations on Election Day — not with Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit’s objection on record and the High Court all-but certain to strike it down. The surprise is that the government-supported bill never made it past committee to a first vote in the Knesset.

Netanyahu’s new campaign tactic is to claim that Palestinian citizens are “stealing” the elections by voter fraud. Four years ago he claimed in a notorious video that Arab voters were coming to the polls “in droves;” and more recently, polling station workers in areas with majority Palestinian populations were discovered wearing hidden cameras. Netanyahu is weaponizing his racist base by inciting against Palestinian citizens. This could result in right wing activists trying to intimidate voters at polling stations in majority Arab areas.

Netanyahu is playing the long game: not a single poll shows the Likud-ultra-Orthodox-religious right bloc reaching the necessary 61 Knesset seats to form a government. Even if the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party passes the electoral threshold — which would boost Netanyahu’s chances of forming the coalition — the bloc would only get 60 seats at best. In most polls, the Kahanists don’t pass the electoral threshold.

Netanyahu knows that if this ends up happening, his days as prime minister are numbered. He is convinced, it seems, that a tagline such as “the Arabs are stealing the vote” could be used as an effective tool both against those inside the Likud who would want to oust him in order to avoid a third election, as well as Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Liberman, who seems to have found a new partnership with the Blue and White party. Netanyahu believes that neither Liberman — who regularly attacks Palestinians — nor senior Likud officials would want to come across as those who allowed the Arabs to “steal” the vote.

All of this could still happen, but the first obstacle came earlier than expected. The so-called camera law collapsed even before it was fully formed, which is perhaps where the most interesting development in this story lies. This law targets, first and foremost, Arab voters — to intimidate them from casting their votes and drive a lower Arab turnout. The opposition...

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How Israel helped whitewash Indonesia's anti-leftist massacres

To advance its political, economic, and security goals, Israeli intelligence helped whitewash the murder of half a million members of the Indonesian Communist Party and other leftist groups in the 1960s.

By Eitay Mack

In October 1965, the Indonesian government launched a massive purge of left-wing and communist parties in the country. Over the following six months, at least half a million members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and related leftist parties were murdered, while more than one million citizens were imprisoned without trial. Many of those who were jailed were brutally tortured, held in inhumane conditions, or sentenced to hard labor. Some of them remained in prison for up to 30 years.

The official justification for the purge was a series of events that took place beginning on October 1, 1965. A group called the 30 September Movement, led by a commander from the Presidential Guard, kidnapped and murdered six generals; they claimed they were trying to prevent a CIA-backed military coup against Ahmed Sukarno, the democratically-elected president, who had been a hero of Indonesia’s liberation struggle from Dutch colonial rule.

A group of generals under the command of General Suharto claimed the murders were an attempt by the Communist Party and its leftist allies to take control of Indonesia by force with the help of China. The army took over the government and immediately launched a campaign of incitement that led to the massacres and mass detentions.

For decades the military regime insisted, as did various investigators, that those six blood-soaked months were the consequence of spontaneous actions carried out by ordinary citizens who were enraged at the left’s attempt to take over the country. Geoffrey Robinson, a UCLA professor who has dedicated his life’s work to researching the horrors in 20th century Indonesia, asserts in his book “The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66,” that the army directed the killings and mass detentions via commando units that had been created specifically for this purpose.

Robinson found documents showing that the operations were carefully planned. He writes that the army’s incitement campaign called for the complete destruction of the communist parties and their supporters. He also asserts that most of the people who were killed were initially detained for interrogation, often because their names appeared on lists that were prepared by the army.

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Meretz is the last Jewish anti-occupation party. But for how long?

As Israel’s center-left and centrist parties have dropped the topic of the occupation over the years, Meretz has remained the sole Jewish party to emphasize ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But can it continue to hold out amidst running mate Ehud Barak’s talk of annexation? 

By Meron Rapoport

Meretz has seen its fair share of criticism over the years — too white, too left-wing, too Zionist, too Tel Aviv-centric, too occupation-oriented, too elitist. But there is one thing you can’t take from it: Meretz’s party platform has always clearly called for an end to the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, even as Israel’s centrist and center-left parties have done all they can to avoid dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Not a single other Jewish party has been as emphatic on this issue. Prior to the last Israeli elections in April, former Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg traveled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Meretz has also put an emphasis on Jewish-Arab partnership throughout the last few years, and has even considered turning the party into a joint Jewish-Arab one.

As such, recent statements by Ehud Barak — who is number 10 in the Democratic Union list of which Meretz is a part — should be considered a clear departure from the dovish party’s positions. Barak acknowledges that the Palestinian issue is the “elephant in the room,” an exceptional acknowledgement in today’s political discourse, but his proposals for dealing with this elephant do not necessarily include ending the occupation or establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The two-state solution, says Barak, should be used as a goal for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (he doesn’t mention the PLO). But if the two sides remain unable to come to an agreement, Israel must unilaterally annex the settlement blocs, including the settlements of Ariel and Kedumim, located deep inside the West Bank. The Israeli army, he continues, must maintain control of the rest of the occupied territories until negotiations start up again. In short, Barak believes that the end of the occupation and a Palestinian state are not basic principles — they are options, and not necessarily the preferred ones.

It is true that Barak’s Israel Democratic Party is only one of the three parties that makes up the Democratic Union, alongside Meretz and the Stav Shaffir-led Green Movement. But...

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