Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak says it is urgent to establish a Palestinian state– but he assured an Israeli audience that that state will be “non-viable.”
Barak, a Labor leader who has challenged the current Prime Minister from the left, was speaking to the Herzliya conference, in remarks published yesterday. He said Israel’s future is in jeopardy because the world sees that Netanyahu is not sincere about a two-state solution. He went on:
No one in the world thinks that we are Switzerland here, but I’m telling you, with full responsibility, no one in the world understands how come the government of Israel sees in a Palestinian state which is demilitarized– almost completely not viable, surrounded by the Israeli forces– the strongest army in the world, almost a nuclear superpower, backed by America, including technologies that they didn’t even give to their own soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan– how can this non-viable state, which is surrounded, be an existential threat on Israel?… Existential threat on Israel? This sounds like either fabricated or visionary or completely crazy planning.
Barak came close to negotiating a peace deal with the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000 under the so-called Clinton Parameters; but even then Israel was unwilling to give up more than 93 percent of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the talks fell through.
International mediators who have worked (endlessly, fruitlessly) for a Palestinian state have said that state must be “viable” — meaning it must be sustainable on its own economically and politically, and capable of granting real freedom and opportunity to its citizens.
But Ehud Barak’s vision of Israeli control over Palestine suggests clearly that the state would have no meaningful sovereignty.
“It is agreed by all of us that we are present in Judea and Samaria because it is our privilege. Not because of power. We have a historical, moral, natural right, as it says in the declaration of independence,” Barak said.
He said Israel must be a security state. Israel is still “a villa in the jungle,” facing threats from Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and ISIS. “Therefore we have to be with sword in hand and a finger on the revolver, and we have to defeat any threat.”
But Barak said that the extremists in Netanyahu’s government who have a “one state agenda” are the only existential threat to the Zionist enterprise.
One state from the Jordan to the sea will be one with an Arab majority and a civil war or an apartheid regime that deals with violence and threat of collapse.
By holding on to all of the territories, Israel was threatening the support of the United States and the world. “It’s not by chance that 90 percent of the high echelon officers in the army, in the police, in the Mossad” all call for a Palestinian state with a permanent border, he said. “Those people who planned the security of Israel, creating an iron wall, most of them were what their people call today leftists. Jabotinsky’s iron wall was created by the security forces.”
Ze’ev Jabotinsky was the rightwing Zionist who said in the 1930s that Arabs would never accept the existence of a Jewish state so Jews would have to create a majority-Jewish society and then surround it with an “iron wall” of security forces to maintain its existence. In a word, Sparta– as Hannah Arendt said at the time.
But Netanyahu has taken the country toward the precipice with a politics of fear and isolation, Barak said. “History will never forgive us if we don’t stop in time the new incarnation of Jewish blind zealousness and bigotry,” he said. “I call upon everyone. This is an hour of test and crisis before we going to get to fascism… or god forbid to apartheid.”