A friend sent along this adjustment to an image from AIPAC’s Facebook page.
AIPAC’s campaign seems to be coming in response to J Street’s push to pin down the Israeli government on whether they support a Palestinian state or not. The question keeps coming up with members of Netanyahu’s government and the answer seems to be a clear, “no.”
On Tuesday Haaretz‘s Barak Ravid reported on “rifts over peace process” within the Netanyahu government. The story covers a debate in the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee over whether the Israeli goverment has an official position supporting a Palestinian state in advance of John Kerry’s visit:
The divisive issue came up during the first five minutes of the discussion, when former Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) interrupted Livni: “Does the government already have a uniform position regarding Secretary of State John Kerry’s initiative?” he asked. “It seems there are substantial divides inside the government.”
Livni did not avoid the question, saying that “the government’s shared goal is to restart negotiations with the Palestinians. It is no secret that there are differences among government members over the Palestinian issue and what an agreement with them should look like, but the policy is negotiations based on two national states which will bring an end to the conflict.”
MK Orit Strock from Habayit Hayehdi cut Livni off. “Two states for two peoples is not the government’s official position,” she said. “It is not part of the government’s guiding principles, and for good reason. This is perhaps Netanyahu’s position and your position, but it has not been accepted as the government’s position.”
The meeting followed on the heels of a Jodi Rudoren interview with Yair Lapid last Sunday where the Israeli Finance Minister was asked about his view of the peace process. While Lapid gives lip service to the two-state solution, he opposes any Israeli concessions that would actually make it possible. From Rudoren’s interview:
An avowed centrist, Mr. Lapid nevertheless took a hard line on policy toward the Palestinians, the issue that has defined Israeli politics for decades but that was overshadowed by domestic concerns in the recent campaign. He said that Israel should not change its policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank in order to revive the stalemated peace process, and that Jerusalem should not serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state — an essential part of Palestinian plans.
Mr. Lapid acknowledged that tens of thousands of Jews would someday be uprooted from what he described as “remote settlements” in the West Bank, something he called “heartbreaking.” But he said that problem should be set aside for now, advocating the immediate creation of an interim Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank where no Jews live, with final borders drawn in perhaps three, four or five years. Palestinian leaders have roundly rejected temporary borders.
While he described the two-state solution as “crucial” to preserving Israel as a Jewish nation, he offered no hints of Israeli concessions that could break the stalemate in the peace process. Instead, he repeatedly said he hoped that Secretary of State John Kerry, who is scheduled to arrive here this week for his fourth visit in two months, would “jump-start” it.
And he expressed extreme skepticism about the likelihood of reaching a deal with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, saying, “He’s one of the founding fathers of the victimizing concept of the Palestinians.”
He also questioned whether Palestinians truly wanted a state.
The interview is getting attention in Israel. Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit says Lapid’s ambiguous stance towards the peace process has now been clarified and he is “the new icon of right-wing Tel Aviv.” Shavit continues:
But the political significance of Lapid’s words is clear: They block the path to a peace agreement and do not allow a unilateral move. They restrain the Finance Minister and bind Netanyahu − and turn the government into a government of the old, new and extreme right. The celebrity who came to change things did not really intend on changing the status quo in Judea and Samaria. The star who promised to cut the budget of the settlement enterprise is now about to send the settlements billions. While he waits for an undefined peace that will never arrive, the brother of Naftali Bennett is ready to promote Bennett’s dream of a million settlers. Without intending to do so and without being aware of it, Lapid is about to bury once and for all the idea of dividing up the land of Israel.