At long last the Palestinian issue is entering the Israeli election campaign, with the two leading Jewish factions competing over the two-state solution. Yesterday Netanyahu’s Likud came out against a two-state solution, while the challenger Zionist Camp has come out for it. Though notice in the platform released yesterday that the Zionist Camp is parroting a Jewish-nationalist Netanyahu position that actually caused his government to fall last October: the “unequivocal” assertion that Israel is the “nation state of the Jewish people.”
First, Netanyahu’s choreography. The Likud Party yesterday issued an emphatic statement against a two-state solution. Haaretz’s account:
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that [in light of] the situation that has arisen in the Middle East, any evacuated territory would fall into the hands of Islamic extremism and terror organizations supported by Iran. Therefore, there will be no concessions or withdrawals; they are simply irrelevant.”
That statement softens an earlier statement “that appeared this weekend in a weekly Shabbat pamphlet.”
“The Prime Minister announced that the Bar-Ilan speech is null and void,” read the message in the pamphlet, continuing, “Netanyahu’s entire political biography is a fight against the creation of a Palestinian state.”
Later it was said that the statement in the pamphlet came from Tzipi Hotovely, a hardliner who is a Likud member of Knesset and in Netanyahu’s cabinet.
Netanyahu sought to distance himself from utter rejection of a two-state outcome:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office denied reports on Sunday he has backed away from a 2009 commitment to seek a two-state peaceful solution with the Palestinians…
The party’s statement, apparently issued by hardliners, said Netanyahu had also suggested “there would be no withdrawals or concessions, that this is simply irrelevant,” referring to swapping any occupied land for peace.
Liberal Zionists are all over the statements, decrying them. Dylan Williams of J Street:
If Netanyahu was leading US on re 2-state solution, can we get PM residence bottle refunds to reimburse US taxpayer for doomed negotiations?
Lara Friedman of Peace Now:
Bibi now running on opposition to 2-state solution. Coming soon: Bibi’s US apologists defend this as pro-peace stance
Meantime, Netanyahu’s chief opposition, the Zionist Camp of Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, issued a platform that calls for negotiations toward a two-state outcome:
“Reaching a diplomatic accord is of utmost importance and constitutes a condition to ensuring Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, which enjoys wide international support and backing,” the platform states.
“The Zionist Union will work to formulate a diplomatic accord and to determine Israel’s secure and just permanent borders as a Jewish-democratic state, by advancing a security-diplomatic initiative. This initiative will reflect Israel’s core values, which are expressed in the Declaration of Independence in the call for peace and good relations between Israel and its neighbors, alongside the unequivocal definition of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people,” the platform further states.
The “security diplomatic” initiative would seem to refer to the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, language that Palestinian leaders have indicated they will not accept. And as for “the unequivocal definition of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people,” remember that it was Netanyahu’s legislation that called for just that that caused his government to collapse last year. That language was “vehemently opposed” by Yair Lapid, finance minister and centrist. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni also criticized the language, amid widespread outrage over a bridge too far, even in the U.S.
Former Israeli general Amiram Levine also addressed the crowd, stressing the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative. Addressing Israeli settlers in the West Bank, Amiram argued that peace “is the only way to preserve the settlement project, the settlement blocs and to hold on to the Golan Heights.”Both [Levine and former Mossad chief Meir Dagan] used the word “apartheid” in their warnings of the direction Israel is headed.