No matter who wins the Israeli elections, Palestinians lose

Israel/Palestine
on 33 Comments

If Benjamin Netanyahu hadn’t gone into politics he’d be on Broadway, hamming it up as a pantomime villain. Israel’s hawkish prime minister is theatrically obnoxious to the point where even Israel’s staunchest allies in the American Jewish community are urging him to tone it down. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t just show up to your house uninvited, but brings along his dirty laundry, empties your fridge, urinates in the sink and then abruptly storms out, complaining about poor service.

Few American or European officials will shed a tear if he is ousted in next month’s election.  But it would be wrong to attribute their hostility purely to Netanyahu’s abrasive style.

Last year, US Secretary of State John Kerry engineered a high-profile diplomatic bid to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. He sought to capitalise on Palestinians’ political weakness by securing their leaders’ acquiescence to Israel’s long-standing conditions for an agreement.

Despite successfully extracting a Palestinian signature, Kerry’s initiative failed when Netanyahu prioritized his coalition’s survival and rejected his country’s previously declared bottom lines as insufficient. American humiliation was total, and an enduring enmity was born.

An important distinction must be made between Kerry’s proposal for resolving the conflict and what is widely known as the two-state solution. The latter entails a peace based on Israel’s withdrawal to its legal borders (with minor and mutual land swaps), the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, and a just resolution for Palestinian refugees in accordance with international law.

This framework enjoys overwhelming international political support—‘on the matter of borders’, Israel’s former prime minister Ehud Barak lamented, ‘the entire world agrees with the Palestinians and not with us’—and its legal premises have been affirmed by the International Court of Justice.

Kerry’s proposal, by contrast, would see Israel annex its major illegal settlement blocs on critical chunks of Palestinian territory, redraw its border roughly along the route of the illegal Wall and nullify the refugees’ right of return. These terms fly in the face of international law and make mockery of a future Palestinian state. Kerry’s success would signal the two-state solution’s demise.

Mainstream Israeli parties are united in rejecting the international consensus for resolving the conflict; what divides them is the Kerry plan. Whereas Netanyahu is content to maintain the status quo of occupation and settlement expansion de facto, the pro-Kerry camp desires its legal consecration, for the sake of which it is willing to abandon isolated settlements east of the Wall.

The Zionist Union heads up Israel’s pro-Kerry opposition to Netanyahu. Its leaders, Labour’s Isaac Herzog and Hatnuah’s Tzipi Livni, could scarcely have been more explicit in their support for Kerry and corresponding repudiation of a settlement based on international law.

‘When we distinguish between isolated settlements and the blocs’, Livni explains, ‘then we legitimize the settlement blocs’. ‘I believe in the blocs’, Herzog declares; they should ‘be part of Israel for ever’. Livni, who in 2007 proclaimed before Palestinian negotiators that ‘I am a lawyer… but I am against law—international law in particular’, has described the Wall as Israel’s ‘future border’.

If Netanyahu forms Israel’s next government, Palestine’s foreseeable future will resemble its unbearable present. Europe may escalate economic pressure on Israel, but not sufficiently to bring about the occupation’s end, while at the United Nations the US and Europe might seek to enshrine the parameters for future negotiations in a new Security Council resolution.

Such a resolution could wind up granting the settlement blocs to Israel, representing a historic defeat from which the Palestinian struggle for self-determination would almost certainly not recover. Just as UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) has served as the bedrock for negotiations the past half century, a new security council resolution inscribing the Kerry plan would set the parameters of all future negotiations.

But the triumph of Netanyahu’s opposition would bring its own dangers. There are strong indications that Kerry and the leading European governments are preparing to resume negotiations in the event of a Zionist Union victory: US and European officials have been meddling in Israel’s elections with increasing brazenness, the Middle East Quartet describes itself as ‘actively engaged in preparing for a resumption of the peace process’ and, what’s more ominous still, Quartet special envoy Tony Blair is on the move.

Renewed negotiations may go one of two ways. At best, they would replicate previous efforts by achieving zero political progress while reducing the diplomatic cost of occupation for Israel, even as illegal settlement construction continues. As veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy warns, the ‘Israeli peace party would intoxicate the world, which in its despair would again be enticed’.

At worst, new talks would issue in the agreement Kerry tried and failed to secure last year. With Netanyahu gone, the decisive obstacle to securing formal Palestinian capitulation to US-Israeli terms may have been removed.

The only actor capable of frustrating the above developments and forcing the two-state solution back on the table is a mass non-violent Palestinian movement. But don’t hold your breath for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to pursue this approach. As the Zionist Union’s candidate for defense minister, Amos Yadlin, explains, ‘it is not at all clear that such a popular uprising would not be aimed first and foremost at the PA leadership itself’.

Yet the alternative is to leave the conflict and its resolution in the hands of those who are indifferent or hostile to Palestinian rights. From such villains as these, be they flamboyant or restrained, one should expect nothing but villainy.

About Jamie Stern-Weiner

Jamie Stern-Weiner is an independent researcher based in London. He is a founding co-editor of New Left Project, and can be followed on twitter @ipfreeme.

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33 Responses

  1. Herb Glatter
    February 24, 2015, 12:10 pm

    At Israel’s MIT, Arab Women (and Men) Are Suddenly Thriving

    http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-12-05/israeli-arabs-flourish-at-technion

  2. Herb Glatter
    February 24, 2015, 12:17 pm
  3. Peter Feld
    February 24, 2015, 4:07 pm

    It would be terrible to waste the last two years of a no-fucks-to-give Obama on a revived Kerry process instead of major whacks at the special relationship due to more antics from Netanyahu. A Labor-Livni victory would be a calamity: it’s vital that this election completely demoralize Israel’s liberal supporters and extinguish their last hope for some kind of “enlightened” government on the horizon.

    • Mooser
      February 25, 2015, 4:08 pm

      “A Labor-Livni victory would be a calamity: it’s vital that this election completely demoralize Israel’s liberal supporters and extinguish their last hope for some kind of “enlightened” government on the horizon.”

      But Likud, Netanyahoo, is so atrocious toward the Palestinians and seems to feel he can get away with anything.

      It is an awful situation. Isn’t this what is called a “Hobson’s choice” kind of thing? Not sure.

      • Peter Feld
        February 25, 2015, 7:20 pm

        @Mooser, I agree that many bad things lie ahead with Netanyahu but he will attract international pressure that Herzog and Livni wouldn’t, and they’re quite bad.

      • Mooser
        February 27, 2015, 1:12 pm

        “A Hobson’s choice is a free choice in which only one option is offered. As a person may refuse to take that option, the choice is therefore between taking the option or not; “take it or leave it”.

  4. Bornajoo
    February 24, 2015, 4:22 pm

    “US court orders Palestinians to pay Israeli attack victims more than $218M”

    Hold on Herb, let me just get my calculator…. So that in turn makes israel’s penalty for their crimes against the Palestinians approximately…. $218 trillion.

    Thank you Jamie
    It’s a lose lose for the Palestinians. I still prefer Nuttyyahoo and the right wing monkeys to the other Devils dressed in sheep’s clothing. At least all the Shit is right out in the open and that at least educates those who just don’t know.

    Abbas should just do the honourable thing and hand back the keys. This is the real nuclear option, not the ICC. Otherwise it’s more and more and more and more of the same

  5. yonah fredman
    February 24, 2015, 7:34 pm

    Due to all the failure of the peace process until this point of time cynicism towards the Livni-Herzog ticket is apt. Yet, these articles telling us what the government that will never come into being is going to be like are a waste of time. Do you really think that if Livni Herzog and Meretz gathered 61 seats that they would let the opportunity pass them by without making a major effort to reach an agreement with Abbas and even Hamas?! They would make a major effort. But not going to happen. They will get barely thirty votes between the two of them. And thus their policy statements are aimed towards those who will end up voting for parties to their right.

    • Mooser
      February 25, 2015, 11:38 am

      “Yet, these articles telling us what the government that will never come into being is going to be like are a waste of time.”

      You are probably right, Yonah, it is “a waste of time” and that would be a good reason for not reading it. I’m glad you didn’t waste yours.

      BTW, Yonah, could you recommend any articles in Mondo that aren’t? I like to save time, too.

  6. Rusty Pipes
    February 24, 2015, 10:56 pm

    The Jerusalem Post and Ynet are not the most reliable sources.

    Indyk is one of many rotating Israel Lobby experts who have given the Obama administration advice and presume to speak for the administration, on and off the record. No doubt Israeli politicians, from sorta Left to far Right, would prefer that Palestinians spend their energy resisting their own leadership rather than the occupation. Although small in number, Palestinian non-violent resistance is alive and well — even though its practitioners suffer injury and death (including those with PA affiliation).

  7. Kay24
    February 24, 2015, 11:40 pm

    The headlines are sad, but that is the reality. No matter who wins, the zionist policies will continue, and the poor Palestinians will have to keep suffering the same way, under occupation, blockaded, lands stolen, constant reminders of that by seeing rows of illegal settlements, being shot at, massacred by the thousands, and have their home flattened by US and Israeli made weapons. What a sad state of affairs.

  8. Kay24
    February 25, 2015, 2:55 am

    The nazi settlers of illegal settlements are at it again:

    “West Bank mosque torched by settlers, Palestinians say
    Settlers enter Kafr Jab’a overnight and vandalized the area; police investigating.”
    Haaretz

    Gee I wonder if it would be okay for the Palestinians to torch a synagogue close by. Bibi insists any crime against Israel must be avenged, so keeping that in mind, why not the Palestinians do the same. Tit for tat and all that.

    • Bornajoo
      February 25, 2015, 3:23 am

      “Gee I wonder if it would be okay for the Palestinians to torch a synagogue close by. Bibi insists any crime against Israel must be avenged, so keeping that in mind, why not the Palestinians do the same. Tit for tat and all that”

      Thanks Kay. I just read the full story on haaretz. I started swearing.

      So easy for the shitty settlers to be big tough bullies with the IDF protecting their every move. And so easy for shitty israel to be a big tough bully with the USA protecting their every move.

      • Kay24
        February 25, 2015, 3:58 am

        So true Bornajoo, you are so right about the protection. I am equally disgusted with these terrorists from the settlements, who show absolutely no regard for non Jews, humanity, and respect for other religions. They are scum of the earth, who have terrorized the already suffering people of Palestine, who have the misfortune of having to deal with these vermin who have deliberately been dumped there by the zionists with grand visions of stealing lands and trying to claim as theirs, beyond what was given to them. These are not decent human beings, but lawless freaks, who cannot be controlled by the government, armed by their government, and should be thrown in jail. Meanwhile the little Arab kids are kidnapped and thrown in jail for unexplained reasons, and abused in every way. I really dislike what the US policies are regarding Israel, and it’s continued support, aid and abetting it’s on going crime. It makes me ashamed when I read articles like this. We must have been cursed a million and one times or more for the part we keep playing.

      • Bornajoo
        February 25, 2015, 4:03 am

        Well stated Kay!

      • Mooser
        February 25, 2015, 4:15 pm

        If I am not mistaken, don’t an awful lot of the settlers have dual-passports? So they can make a hasty exit, if they make Palestine too hot to hold them. And that is who the vanguard of the Zionist conquest of “Greater Israel” is.

        One thing I’ve never quite been able to grasp, is who gets stuck in Israel when it falls apart. I know who can leave, but who will be the people who get stuck there, (among those called “Israelis) and can’t leave? Who would that be?

  9. just
    February 25, 2015, 8:17 am

    Gentlemen~ your article is very good, and it confirms my belief that it is up to the world to keep the pressure on our elected leaders and not to lose the momentum we have gained, gratis of Netanyahu. No leader nor congress/parliament will have the gumption/courage/ethics to do the right thing if we don’t demand it, and keep the pressure on!

    This latest massacre, this cruel winter, the lack of attention focused on the suffering of the Palestinians (both in and out of Gaza) all combine to form opposition to any GoI! All of this outrage, and the facts that gave rise to the outrage, must be marshaled and not forgotten… BDS needs our focused attention. Governments need to be pushed to do the right thing. If we stand and act together in solidarity for Palestine and justice, we can make 1S1P1V a reality.
    ————–
    “Tensions between Israel and the U.S. continue to rise over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming Congress address. President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice said Tuesday that the Israeli premier’s March 3 speech is “destructive” to the relationship between the two countries.

    Rice made the comments in an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS. The remarks came hours after Secretary of State John Kerry slammed Netanyahu over his opposition to the unfolding nuclear deal with Iran.

    “The relationship between the U.S. and Israel has always been bipartisan and we have been fortunate that the politics have not been injected into this relationship,” Rice said.

    Also on Tuesday, Netanyahu declined an invitation to meet with U.S. Senate Democrats during his trip to Washington next week.

    “Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit,” Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein obtained by Reuters.

    Durbin and Feinstein had invited Netanyahu to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators in a letter on Monday, amid tensions over his planned Congress address.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.644119

    Here’s the thing: I don’t care a whit about “bipartisanship” wrt Israel. As a matter of fact, that unquestioned, bipartisan support is exactly the problem! I hope that this is not reduced to a purely ‘political’ ruckus, and that this is a moment in time when reps and the American people can take a cold, hard look at this violent, belligerent, and nuclear armed Occupier who lives entirely outside international law. We must decide if we want to continue aiding and abetting in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, or if we want to preserve and make much better the precious remaining lives, rich heritage, and the culture of a beautiful and historic people.

    • just
      February 25, 2015, 8:54 am

      So sorry that I addressed you as “Gentlemen”. My error, Jamie. Thank you for this article.

    • Kathleen
      February 26, 2015, 10:30 pm

      You nailed it Just. While this is a depressing piece because it is so damn realistic. Jamie has not put the BDS movements growth, awareness, pressure. While there is little to show well nothing to show on the ground for the Palestinians the pressure is on and looks like the heat on the apartheid government is only going to grow even stronger.

      I found this line particularly depressing “If Netanyahu forms Israel’s next government, Palestine’s foreseeable will resemble it’s unbearable past”

      My dear friend Christian Peace Maker team member and then with ISM Art Gish (deceased who had gone over to Hebron for over a decades to live with the Palestinians) and I used to talk about how things had gotten worse for the Palestinians over the decade or so that more people were becoming aware.

  10. Bornajoo
    February 25, 2015, 9:16 am

    “I hope that this is not reduced to a purely ‘political’ ruckus, and that this is a moment in time when reps and the American people can take a cold, hard look at this violent, belligerent, and nuclear armed Occupier who lives entirely outside international law. We must decide if we want to continue aiding and abetting in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, or if we want to preserve and make much better the precious remaining lives, rich heritage, and the culture of a beautiful and historic people.”

    +100 Just!

    • just
      February 25, 2015, 10:11 am

      thank you ;-)

      ————–
      Naftali Bennett’s bff:

      “”To boycott Israel because of its policies and because Israel wants to defend itself is not only anti-Zionist… it’s 21st century anti-Semitism,” MK Ayelet Shaked tells Haaretz, adding that she believes that boycotting Israel “should be illegal.”

      In an interview for “The Candidates,” Haaretz’s series of conversations with Knesset hopefuls, the Habayit Hayehudi MK tells Aimee Amiga about her party’s plan to annex Area C of the West Bank, saying Israel should grant full civil rights to Palestinians living there, and that Palestinians in Areas A and B “should keep having autonomy like they have today” and that “sometime in the future [the areas] could be part of a confederation with Jordan.”

      Shaked says she is against the establishment of a Palestinian state and thinks the one-state solution would be “harmful both for the Israelis and the Palestinians.””

      http://www.haaretz.com/video/.premium-1.644195?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
      ————–
      “11:31 A.M. High Court allows Yisrael Beiteinu give out free copies of Charlie Hebdo

      The High Court of Justice has decided to allow Yisrael Beiteinu to distribute copies of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

      The ruling overturns a February 4 decision by the Central Election Committee, which issued an injunction against the plan to give out copies of the controversial magazine for free, claiming that it constitutes illegal campaigning.

      Barring the party from giving out the magazine “would excessively violate the freedom of expression,” Judge Noam Sohlberg wrote.”

      http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel-election-2015/1.644187?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

      Sure, Judge Noam Sohlberg, sure.

      • seafoid
        February 25, 2015, 12:34 pm

        “”To boycott Israel because of its policies and because Israel wants to defend itself is not only anti-Zionist… it’s 21st century anti-Semitism,” MK Ayelet Shaked tells Haaretz, adding that she believes that boycotting Israel “should be illegal.” –

        Boycotting injustice is always legal.
        Mr Boycott was a brutal landlord.

        and the bots have destroyed the Palestinian economy- is that supposed to be kosher ? Do prayers in Israel serve any purpose whatsoever given the injustice of the system ?

      • Mooser
        February 25, 2015, 4:20 pm

        At any rate, Mr. Nettenyahoo made it clear that he will give nothing to the Democrats and won’t even talk about dealing with some of their concerns. This may force them to give that hard look at the kind of support they have up til now been giving Israel.

        And that insulting “partisanship” excuse, like the Repubs are the real representatives of the entire American political establishment. Let’s hope the Dems. don’t just sit there and take it.

  11. seafoid
    February 25, 2015, 11:12 am

    I think no matter who wins the Israeli elections Israelis lose. Risk buildups are not noticed by most people but when they strike they are deadly.

    Dornbusch’s law, baby

    “The crisis takes a much longer time coming than you think, and then it happens much faster than you would have thought.”

    Even to chosen people. Worse than a 10 million pound sludge from Noo York and Noo Jersey

    • just
      February 25, 2015, 11:29 am

      Brilliant, seafoid.

      On a related and outrageous note, I’m quite sure that you saw this:

      “A prominent academic and climate change denier’s work was funded almost entirely by the energy industry, receiving more than $1.2m from companies, lobby groups and oil billionaires over more than a decade, newly released documents show.

      Over the last 14 years Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, received a total of $1.25m from Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and a foundation run by the ultra-conservative Koch brothers, the documents obtained by Greenpeace through freedom of information filings show.”

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/21/climate-change-denier-willie-soon-funded-energy-industry

      (I am also quite sure that it was more than 1.2 million dollars)

      • seafoid
        February 25, 2015, 12:33 pm

        Maybe Gd is punishing the oil majors now with the price down by 50%, Just.

      • lysias
        February 25, 2015, 12:51 pm

        I understand the drop in the price of oil is largely due to increased production both here domestically and in Saudi Arabia. Don’t you think this is a planned, deliberate attempt to hurt the Russian economy (and maybe the Iranian as well)?

      • seafoid
        February 26, 2015, 5:52 am

        Lysias

        Not fully. The main driver seems to be deflation in Japan and Europe. When markets stop growing asset prices can fall rapidly. Oil markets had built in a lot of growth in oil demand and now that it is falling the prices fall by a lot more. Saudi and the US may want to hurt Iran and Russia but there is more to it than just that.

      • Walid
        February 26, 2015, 6:19 am

        “Saudi and the US may want to hurt Iran and Russia but there is more to it than just that. ”

        Seafoid, after the releases of a few billions, how much money is the US still “holding” for the Iranians and how would that be handled if the US and Iran kiss and make up?

  12. seafoid
    February 25, 2015, 12:35 pm

    That photo of Zippy tries to make her look serious.
    Dangle some Gaza blood in front of her and she flashes her teeth and her eyes start to bulge.

  13. seafoid
    February 26, 2015, 5:53 am

    So the ad says “it’s us or him” and the people in Gaza ask what is the difference.

  14. Kathleen
    February 26, 2015, 10:32 pm

    I ultimately believe the non violent Palestinian movement will grow along with an international non violent movement for Palestinians human rights. We are going to see some real action in this arena. Results?

    • oldgeezer
      February 27, 2015, 12:32 am

      I hope you are right. It’s time to end the violence by all sides and resolve the differences fairly with justice for all.

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