Israel's Opposition Must Take a Stand Against Netanyahu - and His Worldview
Jan 24, 2024
Another preconception that Benjamin Netanyahu believed in religiously before it was shattered on October 7 is the illusion that Israel can ignore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In recent years, the word "occupation" has disappeared from the political lexicon – that's true not only for the right but also for some segments of the center and left. No one wanted to sully themselves with any diplomatic initiatives. Even the use of the word "peace" ended.
This sentiment enabled Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid to become a political force, as it did for Benny Gantz and the National Unity Party. While National Unity does not advocate annexation or support messianic dreams of a complete Land of Israel, it also does not talk about the two-state solution or actively oppose the occupation.
It is not only the political parties that have for the most part given up on fighting the occupation. The Balfour Street protests against Netanyahu avoided like the plague being identified politically with the left. For all the justice of their core demands, the much bigger protests against the judicial overhaul also made sure not to be identified with the campaign against the occupation. They did that despite the fact that the raison d'etre of the overhaul was the eventual annexation of the territories, the deepening of apartheid and strengthening Jewish supremacy.
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On October 7, reality proved that no matter how much we sought to deny the conflict and imagine a future without the Palestinians, the Palestinian problem is an Israeli problem. Netanyahu's idea that the conflict could be managed was exposed as a dangerous lie that led to disaster. If anything, October 7 proved that it was the conflict that is managing Israel.
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According to a new poll, which was conducted for the Geneva Initiative, the public is starting to show signs of awakening to this recognition. It found that 51.3 percent of the public supports the idea of an agreement backed by the United States that includes the return of the hostages, an agreement to form a demilitarized Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, and normalization with Israel. U.S. President Joe Biden is trying to bring Israel into a diplomatic process that ends with a two-state solution.
He is not the only one. On Monday, Jordan's foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, at a meeting with European Union foreign ministers in Brussels said, "They are defying the whole international community and it is about time the world took a stand …. This war will not lead us to any peace, and Israel will not enjoy any security as long as Palestinian rights are not recognized."
Whether it is Gantz, Lapid, Yair Golan or Yossi Cohen, anyone who dreams of leading the opposition to Netanyahu should pay heed to the words of the Jordanian foreign minister. Opposition to Netanyahu must be opposition to both his modus operandi and his worldview, which brought disaster to the State of Israel. It requires recognition of the occupation and the courageous pursuit of a two-state solution.
The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.