Opinion: Israeli Elections and the Peace Process

January 31, 2013 1:22 am 0 comments

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (right) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Photo: wiki commons.

In the run up to the Israeli elections, the great fear discussed by pundits the world over was that Israelis would take a drastic turn to the political right at the polls. This, it was felt, would torpedo any chance of reviving the peace process and give Barack Obama another headache as he sought to head off Iran’s nuclear program — two issues of critical importance to the Obama administration. Instead of lurching to the right, however, the Israeli electorate steered toward the center. Yet as the election results confirm, Israelis remain deeply divided politically but it is mostly over socio-economic issues.

Unique in this election was that the campaigns steered clear of important foreign policy questions such as the future of relations with Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood; what should happen if Western diplomacy fails with Iran; and what will happen if Israel does not negotiate with the Palestinians. Two primary reasons explain this political phenomenon. The first is that Israeli attitudes have been hardening when it comes to the prospects of achieving peace, and the second is that many Israelis are coming to believe that peace talks with Palestinians and Western diplomacy with Iran are both destined to fail and for reasons unconnected to Israeli actions.

This is not to say that Israelis do not want peace — a position that news anchors and pundits have falsely promulgated around the globe while disregarding Palestinian actions. The fact is that the vast majority of Israelis have consistently supported peace through a two-state solution, with 70.6 percent either moderately or strongly supporting peace negotiations with Palestinians. However, an overwhelming 70 percent believe that Israel remaining a Jewish state is the most important factor — even if land has to be shared. This Israeli red line, which forms the basis of the Zionist endeavor, is far from where Palestinians stand. Two-thirds of Palestinians claimed, “The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state.” And, 84 percent claimed, “Over time Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state.” Among Israelis, this reality has created a widening gulf between the desirability for peace on one hand, and the feasibility of peace on the other.

The previous premise of peacemaking rested on the idea of “land for peace.” But that formula has proven to be fool’s gold. The lands Israel evacuated have become the source of constant rocket fire coming from Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon. They have become Iran’s forward operating bases. And there is no appetite to repeat what happened in Gaza in the far larger, more strategic, and religiously relevant West Bank.

Taking stock of two years of Arab upheaval, Israelis are witnessing the dramatic rise of political Islam and the full-scale retreat of secularism. It is not the sunny dawn of secular Arab democracies so hoped for in the West. Israelis rightly believe that even if there were a truly moderate Palestinian leadership, it would likely be unable to quell the rising tide of militant Islamists. After all, even Egypt — led by a seemingly stable regime that already signed a peace agreement with Israel — fell in a revolution subsequently hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. There is no reason for Israel to believe that a far weaker Palestinian Authority, already engaged in an on-again-off-again civil war with Hamas, would survive.

Then there is the stark reality that Mahmoud Abbas does not want to negotiate but instead wants to use the United Nations against Israel. This is a reflection of the will of his people; the Palestinians are in no mood to negotiate a two-state solution with Israel because they still believe they can have the whole proverbial pie and achieve the elimination of Israel eventually. This culture of denial and hatred has not softened in recent years. When asked more fundamental ideological questions surrounding Israel’s existence, 72 percent said it was “right” to deny Jews have a long history in Jerusalem, 61 percent endorsed naming streets after suicide bombers, and 53 percent said it was “right” to teach songs in Palestinian schools that talk about hating Jews.

And then there is the global context, where Israel has resigned itself to the reality that the United Nations has lost any semblance of moral authority. The UN, which in November 1947 voted to partition the land into a Jewish and Arab state, now condemns Israel for building apartments in Jerusalem while refusing to formally censure the Syrian government for ruthlessly slaughtering tens of thousands of its own citizens. In fact, the UN has passed more than 320 resolutions condemning Israel, while since 2006 the UN Human Rights Council has singled out Israel on 27 separate occasions, in resolutions that grant effective impunity to Hamas, Hezbollah, and their state sponsors. Through Israeli eyes, the hypocritical righteous indignation reserved solely for Israel is systematic and unyielding, no matter what concessions Israel offers.

While there is a constant din of voices that frequently and mistakenly grumble that there now exists a window of opportunity for peacemaking, they are chasing illusions set to fit their pre-determined narrative. The window they see through their selective lens is in fact a wall. Unless there is a substantial change in Palestinian red lines, peace and a two-state solution that will end the historic conflict will remain a long way off.

No matter the coalition that Netanyahu cobbles together in the coming weeks, it will not change the aforementioned fundamental issues that prevent progress on the path towards peace. In political reality, neither Netanyahu nor Abbas are motivated to make concessions where little public support exists. Therefore, President Obama should think hard before elevating the Palestinian-Israeli peace process to the front burner as he did at the beginning of his first term. There are more pressing concerns facing American interests in the wider Middle East, such as Iran, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now apparently Mali. The fate of the peace process will have no impact on the stability of those countries or on Iran’s incessant march towards a nuclear weapons capability. At least Barack Obama can take solace in the fact that unlike his first term, he now has the benefit of exceptionally low expectations. In other words — no progress, no problem.

This article was originally published by the American Spectator.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Sports Gold on the Galilee: Israeli Kayaker Comes of Age, Eyes Olympics (VIDEO)

    Gold on the Galilee: Israeli Kayaker Comes of Age, Eyes Olympics (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Three years ago, kayaking coach Roei Lev found aspiring Olympian Ilya Podpolnyy crying on the steps of the Jordan Valley Sprint Kayak Club overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Podpolnyy, then 17 years old, had just been disqualified from the Israeli kayaking championship. He couldn’t survive the heats. He didn’t make the start line. He was devastated—and he had no one with whom to share his hopes, his dreams, and his disappointment. His divorced parents still live in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.