Israelis consistently vote against the idea of a Jewish and democratic Israel alongside a Palestinian state. It is now impossible to see how that could ever be realized.
On Sunday Ayman Odeh, the chairman of the Joint List, met with President Reuven Rivlin to announce his party’s noteworthy decision to endorse Benny Gantz, chairman of the Blue and White party, as prime minister. In an effort to thwart another Netanyahu term, Ayman Odeh did what no other Israeli politician is doing — he articulated a vision for the country’s future: “We want to live in a peaceful place based on ending the occupation, the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, true equality, on the civil and national level, social justice and certainly democracy for all.”
This is not a new or radical position. If anything, it represents the spirit of the Israeli peace camp in the 1990s. It is a bedrock liberal Zionist approach, but the only Israeli politician articulating it is a Palestinian Muslim politician from Haifa. Odeh chairs the socialist Arab-Jewish Hadash Party, which together with the three Arab-dominated parties forms the Joint List; having won 13 seats following last week’s election, the Joint List is now the third largest party in the Knesset.
Odeh’s op-ed in The New York Times Sunday translated for an American audience what many Palestinian citizens and a paucity of Jewish citizens believe: “[T]he only future for this country is a shared future, and there is no shared future without the full and equal participation of Arab Palestinian citizens.”
If you are a champion of liberal democracy, or even just a realist, it is hard to argue with this statement, especially given that Palestinian citizens make up 20 percent of Israel’s population. Yet it remains not only a minority position in Israel, but a persecuted and delegitimized one. With or without Netanyahu, there is no realistic prospect of the Joint List being invited to join a governing coalition (since the founding of the state, no Palestinian-Israeli party has been in the government) or even of heading the opposition. Palestinian citizens of Israel have shown they have enough power to be on the political map, but not enough to change it.
After election results came in last week, Netanyahu spoke of the need for a “strong Zionist government” (code for Jewish-only) and labeled the Joint List “anti-Zionists.” Similarly,...Read More