An Idiotic Initiative

As a matter of course, one might well ignore “peace plans” put forward by Knesset members like MK Benny Elon of the ultra-right Moledet party, a central member of the National Union coalition party. But Elon’s new “Israeli Initiative” bears some examination both because it may unfortunately become a significant part of Israel’s policy planning if Benjamin Netanyahu is elected Prime Minister after the fall of Ehud Olmert and because it has at least one point of interest.
Benny Elon
Under Elon’s initiative, Israel would annex the entire West Bank, placing it all under Israeli sovereignty. But the Palestinians in the West Bank would then become citizens of Jordan, without actually leaving, although those that wished to would be given financing to do so. Elon revives the old right-wing contention that there is already a Palestinian state, and it is Jordan. But he adds to this a fairly bizarre layer wherein Palestinians would be living on sovereign Israeli land, but would be represented by Jordan. Thus, they would be subject to Israeli security arrangements (this is the most basic characteristic of sovereignty, after all) and their only recourse would be to the Jordanian government in hopes it would plead and win a case with Israel. What happens in Gaza is unclear.

Elon either willfully misrepresents or completely misunderstands various polls of Palestinians who say they would move elsewhere if they could. Rather than ascribe this to the obvious, and accurate, cause–the misery, economic devastation and hopelessness of living under occupation–Elon decides this is because they don’t have faith in the Palestinian Authority, hence would not wish to live in an independent Palestinian state that would be led by the PA. He similarly distorts Jordan’s view by saying it sees the emergence of a Palestinian state as a threat, something that might be true if such a state was headed by Hamas, but not if it is headed by Fatah. Continue reading

Help Defeat Legalized Discrimination In Israel

The Knesset has passed the first of three readings of a bill which would allow the Israel Land Authority (ILA) to hold leasing for lands it administers for the Jewish National Fund (JNF) for Jews only. This would bypass a ruling by the Attorney General Menachem Mazuz earlier this year barring such discrimination and also would pre-empt a case coming before the Supreme Court challenging such discrimination.

Mazuz was actually trying to save the JNF’s ability to hold land for Jews. His compromise was that the state would give an equal amount of land directly to the JNF for all land leased or sold to Arab citizens of Israel. This, however, did not satisfy some Knesset members.

The initial vote in the Knesset doesn’t necessarily portend ultimate passage. Only 80 of the 120 Knesset members voted on this bill at all and, while the vote was 64-16, it is not unusual for votes on bills in the Knesset to change sharply in subsequent readings. Thus, this is a case where a real impact can be made by those who believe that Israel must not be a discriminatory state. You can start by signing a petition I helped review here. Continue reading