Netanyahu’s Coalition of the Unwilling

After Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprising victory in Israel’s national elections in March, he took until the last possible Bennettminute to complete the process of forming the government for his fourth term as Israel’s prime minister. For all the time he invested, despite making it just under the wire, Netanyahu ended up with a fragile, ultra-right-wing coalition and more work ahead of him to bring in at least one more party.

The government Netanyahu presented to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin was a bare majority of 61 seats out of the 120-seat Knesset. There are no fig leafs in this coalition, no Tzipi Livni or Ehud Barak for Netanyahu to send to talk fruitlessly with the Palestinians. One might think this would make the coalition more stable, since it consists entirely of the right wing. In this, one would be wrong. Read more at LobeLog.

Israel’s President Is More Complex Than You’d Think

Some people are surprised by some of the things Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has said and done. That just shows a real lack of historical Reuven_Rivlinperspective on the Israeli political scene.

In the United States and Europe, the Israeli right, epitomized by the Likud Coalition, has always been the “opponent of peace,” while the Labor Party and, later, Kadima were the “pursuers of peace.” This was always a false dichotomy. It would have been somewhat truer to say that supporters of Likud were usually, but far from always, opposed to the two-state solution that Oslo envisioned, while Labor and Kadima supported it.  Continue reading

Netanyahu is Forever

Ok, maybe not forever, but in this week’s piece at Souciant, I examine Bibi’s strategies in his latest political shenanigans. His goal is the same as always, to strengthen his position and hold on to the Prime Minister’s office as long as possible. But it is troubling that so many factors are lining up to enable to do just that for a long time…

MK Ahmed Tibi’s Speech in the Knesset On Yom Ha’Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

Ahmed Tibi is perhaps the Knesset’s most controversial member. Eloquent (in Hebrew), he is an unflinching critic of Israel’s occupation and its treatment of its Arab citizens and has frequently been the target of his fellow Knesset members.

MK Ahmed Tibi (photo by Lisa Goldman)

In 2010, on the UN Holocaust Remembrance Day, he delivered a speech so brilliant and moving that even the right-wing Speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin called it “one of the best speeches he has ever heard in the plenum” about the Holocaust.

Rivlin’s saying that is particularly noteworthy since, while always respecting the Holocaust and its meaning for Jews, Tibi did not back away from saying that racism is a growing problem in Israel today.

I provide the full text of Tibi’s speech below. Continue reading

The One-State Solution Comes From…The Right?

A section of the Israeli right wing has now graduated from their unabashed opposition to advocating a one-state solution.  This is not a passing affectation, I think, but a strategic choice that is gaining support, with good reason.

The right-wing idea is built on the fatal flaw that progressive advocates of a one-state solution have never been able to adequately address: that the Arab population, whether minority or majority, would be disenfranchised in this one state, leading to the very apartheid scenario the left wishes to avoid (or, as some would put it, erase). Thus part of the strategic goal of a one-state solution among the right is to permanently destroy Palestinian nationalism.

Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens

There are different ideas among right-wingers for how a one-state solution would work. One common thread, though, is that it would not include Gaza. Since there are no longer any Jews in Gaza, and the actual land is neither significant to Jewish religion or history nor worth much in terms of real estate, they can let it go.

So, Israel would annex the entire West Bank, solving the problem of Jerusalem. Palestinians would be given citizenship, in some scenarios immediately, in some gradually. Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem would have the right to vote, but would certainly also be expected to abandon their fellows in Gaza, the refugee camps in the neighboring countries, and scattered around the world.

Here’s how Hanan Porat, one of the giants of the Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) movement, puts it:

“In my view, every Arab has three options. First, those who want an Arab state and are ready to implement that goal by means of terrorism and a struggle against the state, have no place in the Land of Israel. Second, those who accept their place and accept Jewish sovereignty, but do not want to take part in the state and fulfill all their obligations, can be considered residents and enjoy full human rights, but not political representation in the state’s institutions. By the same token, they will also not have full obligations, such as military or national service. Third, those who say they are loyal to the state and to its laws and are ready to fulfill the obligations it prescribes and declare loyalty to it, can receive full citizenship. I consider this a moral and human principle: citizenship is not forced on anyone or granted just like that. We tried this in East Jerusalem, and the fact is that we failed… Already 30 years ago, we in Gush Emunim were against solutions of fear – both withdrawal and transfer – and said that in the Return to Zion there is room for the Arab population who desire this, as long as we are not naive about the process.” Continue reading