Friends of Meretz USA benefitted from the insights of Meretz MK Avshalom (Abu) Vilan, May 5, on one of his frequent visits to New York. Vilan’s “positive scenario” is for Israel to come to a ceasefire agreement with Hamas via Egypt’s mediation, for Marwan Barghouti to be released as part of a prisoner exchange for the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and for Barghouti to be elected the next Palestinian president who will conclude a peace agreement with Israel.
The bad scenario would be for Israel to go to early elections with Netanyahu likely to win. We heard it from Abu first (before the press reports) that Olmert’s legal problem has to do with an allegedly illegal half million dollar contribution from the US during the 1999 Likud leadership primary. He sees this as potentially very serious, but regards Olmert as a better leader for Israel than any of the likely alternatives, including Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, let alone Bibi Netanyahu of Likud. He distrusts Livni because she lacks experience in managing people and institutions. Livni would become caretaker prime minister for 100 days, at the very least, if Olmert resigns and she cannot hold together his coalition to avoid early elections. (Abu did not reflect upon recent survey data that indicates that Livni would defeat Netanyahu narrowly — 27 seats to 23 — in a pending election.)
He warned against any notion of a one-state alternative to the two-state solution he and we support for Israel and the Palestinians. He sees any rejection of peace between Israel and a future state of Palestine in favor of one unified state as a completely impractical agenda, which Israelis would never support, that would condemn both sides to conflict and injustice for generations to come.