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May 15, 2015 11:34 am

Israel’s New Government is Not ‘By’ or ‘For’ the People

avatar by Alon Ben-Meir

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The Israeli Knesset building. Credit: James Emery.

The political horse-trading in Israel that was seen over the past eight weeks, which went down to the wire to form a new government, was, in the main, a struggle over who would get what position, regardless of their qualifications and irrespective of what is best for the country.

Given that the new government is composed entirely of right-wing and religious political parties, it will be impossible to resume the peace negotiations in earnest, which of necessity requires significant concessions to which Prime Minister Netanyahu and his coalition partners, especially the Jewish Home party led by Naftali Bennett, sternly object.

The makeup of the new coalition gives the Palestinian Authority (PA) no reason to believe that Netanyahu will advance the peace process; in fact, it will further stifle any efforts to revive the negotiations. Moreover, the Obama administration has basically given up on its efforts to resume such talks as it sees no prospect for any breakthrough.

The new government will now further push the Palestinians to “briskly peruse its activity on the international stage…and [draft] new proposed resolutions for the UN Security Council” in order to seek recognition of the Palestinian state and sue Israel at the International Criminal Court to bar the expansion of the settlements, while charging some of Israel’s political leaders with war crimes.

In addition, the government creates a precarious environment far more conducive to renewed violence with the Palestinians, as neither the PA nor the Palestinian public have much hope left that the prospect for peace remains viable. The Israelis should keep in mind what JFK once articulated, that “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

To be sure, the new Netanyahu-led government was created to serve its own political agenda, which is far removed from Israel’s national interests. Indeed, in Israel the politician’s personal interest comes first, the interest of the political party comes second, favoritism comes third, and the country can wait.

Although Bennett’s Jewish Home lost four seats from the previous election, he used his position as king-maker (without his party, Netanyahu could not have formed the new government) to extort from Netanyahu the coveted Justice Ministry, as well as Agriculture and Education. Netanyahu conceded to all of Bennett’s demands out of sheer desperation to stay in power.

Is there anything more absurd than appointing Ayelet Shaked as Justice Minister and a member of the security cabinet? This is the same bloodthirsty Shaked who called for the annihilation of every Palestinian man, woman, and child.

This is a call for genocide that Netanyahu has been shamefully silent about, while willfully ignoring the message that her appointment sends to the international community.

Furthermore, Netanyahu submitted a bill to the Knesset to allow him to appoint more than 18 ministers (which is the limit mandated by law) to create more ministerial positions to satisfy several power-hungry Likud members at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to taxpayers.

Netanyahu’s hypocrisy seem to be limitless; he is now trying to lure Isaac Herzog, of the opposition Zionist Union, to join the government only to put a moderate face on the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.

Although in Israel politics and policies rest with the personal ambitions of those who are in power (or aspire to be), Herzog may prove to be the one leader who puts the nation’s interests first. He may well stick to his position and refuse to join a government that provides Netanyahu with the political shield he needs and be party to the destruction of the peace process altogether.

At no time in its history has Israel been more in need of strong, visionary, and courageous leadership than today. What the Israeli public has ended up with, however, is a government that offers nothing but more insecurity, uncertainty, greater prospects for violent conflicts, and a bleak future.

The half-consolation is that this new government has a razor-thin majority in the Knesset and is not likely to last the full four-year term.

Fearing the loss of some public support, however, any political party that hopes to receive a relative majority of votes shies away from making peace with the Palestinians the centerpiece of its platform and committing to reaching a peace agreement.

The Israeli public, however, must face the reality of the occupation and its devastating repercussions. No sane Israeli should believe that time is in Israel’s favor. Any newly-elected leader must have a clear vision of where Israel will be 10 or 15 years down the line; only on that basis will he or she develop a strategy that would realize that vision.

Certainly there are issues and developments beyond the control of any Israeli leader. Whether or not the Palestinians are willing or capable of meeting Israel halfway, or even if they still seek Israel’s destruction, Israel – and only Israel – has the power to determine its own destiny.

Israel has the military power, logistical and technical capabilities, and financial means to take unilateral action, if it must, by systematically withdrawing from Palestinian territories. There will be no Palestinian leader who will object to any partial territorial withdrawal and refuse to cooperate with Israel on all security matters.

Even under the current circumstances, there is full security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This level of cooperation can only increase if more territory is evacuated and settlements activity is suspended while the negotiations are in process.

Given the composition of the government, the Israeli public should wake up and realize how corrupt the Netanyahu government is and how he and his gang are undermining Israel’s very existence by clinging to a dogmatic ideological/religious belief that they can have it all.

The time is overdue for the rise of new leadership that pursues peace with vigor, seeks social justice and equality, and lives up to the promise behind Israel’s creation: as a proud, just, and progressive Jewish state at peace with itself and with its neighbors.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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  • Jonathan Ottenstein

    typical left wing garbage
    The only piece that the enemy wants the peace of the destruction of israel

  • In this article, Alon Ben-Meir said he wants Israel “to take unilateral action…by systematically withdrawing from Palestinian territories.”

    *** QUESTION 1: ***

    When Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, did that result in peace?

    *** ANSWER 1: ***

    No! It resulted in 8,000+ missiles being launches from Gaza to Israel, plus dozens of terrorist tunnels designed to enable terrorists to murder Israeli civilians.

    *** QUESTION 2: ***

    When Israel unilaterally withdrew from Southern Lebanon, did that result in peace?

    *** ANSWER 2: ***

    No! It resulted in thousands of missiles being launches from Southern Lebanon to Israel.

    Israeli civilians were forced to abandon their normal daily routines to seek shelter in the nearest bomb shelter. This happened hundreds of times, all because Israel unilaterally withdrew from Southern Lebanon.

    CONCLUSION: Israeli withdrawals DO NOT result in peace; they result in easy tactical gains for terrorists and more attacks against Israeli civilians.

  • Bibi promised he will not let the left-Labor join the government.
    The left is one of the main reason a new election was called.
    It is time to replace the Media with an objective people who care about Israel and its people. A police force that protects the people of Israel
    It is time to punish those who incite terror and violence. Prosecute those who betray Israel in words and action and treat traitors with full force of the law.
    Protect all Jewish institutions and houses of worship.
    It is time to elect a new Supreme Court Justices in Israel.
    It is time to Annex Judea and Samaria and adopt the Levy report.
    It is time for Israel to take serious action against terror and violence and restore the safety and security of its people without fear of violence, riots, stone throwing and intentional vehicular usage to kill and injure Israelis.
    Remind the Arabs that they expelled over a million Jews from their counties and confiscated all their assets including land 5 times the size of Israel. That the Arabs must balance the books and pay for the assets and the relocation of the Jews.
    Israel needs to build 100,000 housing units per year in Judea and Samaria for the next 10 years, It also needs to build 3 superhighway connecting Judea and Samaria to Israel.
    Construct military bases in Judea and Samaria to protect the people and the country.
    Israel also needs to build 50,000 housing units per year in greater Jerusalem and build additional roads and highway in and from Jerusalem.
    Israel must also build a minimum of 10,000 housing units in the Galil and 10,000 housing units in the Negev every year for the next ten years and expand the infrastructure, roads and highways. They have to expand industry and commerce to enhance the desire of people to live in the Galil and the Negev.
    Construct military bases in Judea and Samaria to protect the people and the country.
    YJ Draiman

    • esther noodelman

      in answer to YJDraiman

      Beautiful,thoughtful and extremely well expressed answer to hateful response by Ottenstein. Up to now we have not been able to act like owners of the land.the only democracy in the Middle East. Yes,we have our own brothers who are dreamers,but we are still the only beacon of hope,the only righteous people pitted vs world hatred. But we’re still a shining example of a true democracy. This really upsets the world.TOO BAD!