Those around the world who are upset with Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahuelectoral victory over labor should put much of the responsibility for Israel’s rightward turn squarely where it belongs: on the Palestinian Authority.
At least twice over the last 15 years, Israel has offered the Palestinians extraordinarily generous two-state solutions. The first time was in 2000-2001 when Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton offered the Palestinians more than 90% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza, with a capital in Jerusalem. Yasser Arafat turned down the offer and started an intifada in which 4000 people were killed. This self-inflicted wound by the leader of the Palestinian Authority contributed greatly to the weakening of Israel’s peace camp, most particularly of Ehud Barak’s Labor Party. The current Zionist Party, which is an offshoot of Labor, has continued to suffer from that weakening.
Most Israelis want peace. But when the other side continually turns down peace deals, they then support parties that focus on security.
Then again in 2007, Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians an even more generous resolution, to which Mohammad Abbas failed to respond positively. This failure also contributed to the weakening of the Israeli center left and the strengthening of the right.
Israel is a vibrant democracy, in which people vote their experience, their fear and their hope. In 2000-2001 and 2007, most Israelis had high hopes for a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian conflict. These hopes were dashed by Arafat’s rejection and Abbas’ refusal to accept generous peace offers. It is not surprising therefore that so many Israelis now vote their fear instead of their hope.
The Obama administration also contributed to the election results in Israel by refusing to listen to Israeli concerns—concerns shared by Israelis of every political stripe—about the impending deal with Iran. Many Israelis have given up any hope of influencing the Obama administration to demand more from the Iranians. The current deal contains a sunset provision which all but guarantees that Iran will have nuclear weapons within a decade.
Obama seems to think a bad deal is better than no deal.
So instead of casting the blame on Netanyahu and the Israeli Right for all the problems of the Mid-East, let all sides look at themselves in the mirror of reality and decide how they can contribute to making the world a safer place by preventing Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear arsenal and by encouraging a compromise resolution of the Palestinian issue that protects Israel’s security while providing the Palestinians with a viable, demilitarized state.
That would be a good thing. I want Palestine to have its own state. But they need to drop their aim of destroying Israel.