Derfner has changed his mind from supporting Tzipi Livni’s new HaTenuah party to Meretz, because he sees Meretz as uniquely courageous in pressing for peace. This endorsement is welcome news, and I agree that the failure to advance a peace process in the current situation is Israel’s fault; Netanyahu’s government clearly prefers expanding settlements to negotiating peace. But I see his larger assertion, laying the entire blame for the conflict with the Palestinians at Israel’s feet, as unnecessarily combative and not entirely accurate.
Although the unilateral nature of Ariel Sharon’s “Disengagement” policy set the stage for the rise of Hamas in Gaza, nobody forced a 44% plurality of Palestinian voters to support Hamas in the election of 2006. And although one can legitimately find fault with the extent of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, nobody forced Palestinian fighters to attack Israeli towns repeatedly from that quarter since those events.
Meretz’s peace plan: A challenge to liberal timidityThe party’s new proposal effectively says the unsayable: that on the occupation, Israel is wrong and the Arabs are right.There are so many people out there, in Israel and overseas, who know that this country has gone wrong and that Netanyahu and the right are leading it to hell. Yet they end up giving their tacit support to the worsening status quo because they don’t have the courage to follow their thoughts to their logical conclusion: that Israel is at fault for the occupation, and that the occupation is at fault for the conflict with the Palestinians. Not Israel and the Palestinians both – Israel alone. Not Netanyahu and Abbas both, if we’re talking about right now – just Netanyahu. …And that’s what makes the Meretz peace plan, which the party presented in its election campaign this week, an oasis in the desert. … It calls for Israel’s immediate recognition of Palestine, followed by a settlement freeze, release of prisoners, lifting of roadblacks, and negotiations based on the Arab peace plan with the sponsorship of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey…. It also calls for scrapping the Oslo Accord….A couple of weeks ago I wrote, somewhat warily, in favor of voting for Hatnuah on practical grounds…. Since then, Livni appears much more clearly to want into Netanyahu’s next government, while Meretz has now offered an extremely valuable example of how the Israeli opposition should act – boldly. So I’ve changed my mind, and am now, without qualifications, in favor of voting for Meretz.