(/sites/default/files/uploads/2014/12/israeli-elections.jpg)Last weekend the New York Times featured what it called “The Opinion Pages – Room for Debate.” The topic was “If Israel Turns Right, Where will it End Up?” The assumption (Israel Turns Right) was probably motivated by a recent (November 30, 2014) Ha’aretz poll that indicated that if elections were held now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party would gain seats, the Jewish Home party will gain even more, while Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party would diminish as previous centrist parties have done, including his father’s (Joseph or “Tommy”) Shinui party. In the same poll, Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party would barely pass the threshold for securing seats. The new Governance Law would raise the threshold to 3.25% of the total vote from the previous 2%.
The poll conducted by the left-leaning Ha’aretz newspaper concluded that the Right–Religious parties together would master 65 seats in the 120 seat Knesset (Israeli parliament) with Likud receiving 24 seats, Naftali Bennett’s Beit Yehudi (Jewish Home) 16, Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu (Israel Our Home) 11, Torah Judaism 8, and Shas, the Sephardic religious party 6.
The new centrist party being formed by Moshe Kahlon, the former Communications Minister in the Likud government is slated by the poll to receive 12 seats, while Lapid’s Yesh Atid would fall from 19 seats to 11. Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah will get 4 down from 6.
The left bloc will continue to shrink with Labor falling from 15 seats to 13, Meretz maintaining its 6 seats, and the Arab lists combined at 9 down from 11. The date for the next election has been set for March 17, 2015. Given the vicissitudes of the region, and the many points of crisis the Israeli government may have to face, the recent poll might undergo considerable changes.
One thing is clear however, an Israeli government turned Right or Left would face an existential threat from Iran. A left-of-center government would have to face the Iranian challenge, once in power, as much as any right-of-center is likely to. The Palestinians, whether as a unity government (Hamas and Fatah) or the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Mahmoud Abbas, are determined to get their way to statehood through the UN Security Council rather than negotiate with Israel. Abbas and the Palestinians are not so much interested in running a state as they are in isolating and delegitimizing Israel. A left-of-center Israeli government led by Labor’s Yitzhak Herzog will not fare better than Netanyahu with a Palestinian unity government or the PA. Mahmoud Abbas will not and cannot forgo the tactical use of the “Palestinian right of return.” For both, Herzog or Netanyahu, the “right of return” is a non-starter.
Diana Buttu, former legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, commented in the NY Times (updated December 7, 2014) on her debate page, charging, “But make no mistake: There are no ‘centrists’ in Israel. All Zionist politicians support Israel’s continued military occupation, the construction and expansion of Israeli colonies, the attacks on and siege of the Gaza Strip and, most important, the denial of freedom and equality to Palestinians. For example, Tzipi Livni, the justice minister fired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has repeatedly voted against Knesset bills seeking to enshrine equality in Israeli laws. In other countries, these politicians would be considered “right-wing extremists,” not centrists.”
Buttu clearly expressed the mindset of Mahmoud Abbas. Using such an expression as “military occupation” is a blatant exaggeration, typical of a Palestinian professional propagandist. She appears to be ignoring the facts, that in Area A (as designated under the Oslo Accords), the Palestinians hold both civilian and security/military control. This includes all the cities of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) with the exception of Jerusalem and the Jewish part of Hebron. In Area B, Palestinians have civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control. This area contains 440 Palestinian villages and their surrounding lands. Area C, which contains the Jewish settlement adjacent to the Green Line, but has a small number of Palestinians, is controlled by Israel. The vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank are under the PA control. Buttu has ignored the fact that in 2005, Israel relinquished the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. Israel moreover, demolished all the Jewish settlements there. Gaza is totally controlled by the Palestinians, and specifically, by the Palestinian Islamist Hamas terrorist organization.
The bills that Buttu refers to are those which seek to undermine the Jewish character of Israel, and have nothing to do with the civil, religious, and human rights of Israeli Arab citizens. The vast majority of the Palestinians, as mentioned, are under the control of the PA, not Israel. The so called “attack and Gaza siege” is another perversion of reality. Hamas terrorists have lobbed over 10,000 rockets on Israeli civilians, and last July, the latest war was provoked by Hamas rocketing Israeli cities.
Buttu reveals her disinterest in Palestinians negotiating peace with Israel when she states that, “It is nonsensical that Palestinians, occupied and stateless, must negotiate their freedom with their occupier and oppressor.” She and her Palestinian terrorist leadership are playing the “victimhood card” to a western world that craves assuaging its own guilt for colonialism, capitalist success, and being supposedly privileged. The truth however is that Palestinians have had endless opportunities to assert their self-determination. In 1937, under the British Peel Commission recommendations, Palestine would have been divided into an Arab and Jewish state, with the Arabs receiving 26,700 square kilometers of a shrunk Palestinian Mandate (in 1922, Britain sliced off 2⁄3 of Palestine Mandate to create the Emirate of Trans Jordan), while the Jews would have received a ghettoized area of only 5,000 square kilometers. The Arabs rejected it, and continued their anti-Jewish terror well until the start of WWII in 1939.
Opportunity for an independent Palestinian state came again a decade later in the form of the 1947 UN Partition. It sought to divide Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. Once again the Arabs rejected it because they would not tolerate a Jewish state of any size. The Oslo Process, negotiated by the Labor Party, not the Right, turned sour. Hamas unleashed a campaign of terror against Israeli civilians with a nod of approval from P.L.O. Chairman Yaser Arafat. When President Bill Clinton sought to settle things between the Palestinians and Israel in a July, 2000 Camp David Summit, Israel’s Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered far reaching concessions, including 95% of the West Bank and Gaza and land swaps for the remaining 5%. In addition, it was agreed to establish the Palestinian capital around Jerusalem. Arafat rejected this chance for statehood the same way his Palestinian-Arab predecessors did. He chose instead to launch the Intifada.
It is because the Palestinian leadership failed to educate its people to accept the idea of peace with the Jewish state as a legitimate neighbor, and instead incited its people to consider a Jewish state of any size as illegitimate, that Arafat rejected an opportunity in 2000 to inaugurate a Palestinian state. Had he signed a document that committed him to “end of conflict,” he would probably have been assassinated. That unfortunately is the price of decades of anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic incitement and intolerance. In the end, it does not matter whether Israel turns Right or Left, the same results will occur. A Palestinian rejection of genuine peace with Israel can be counted on.
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