With everyone predicting that Likud chairman Netanyahu will become Israel’s next Prime Minister in the weeks following the February 10 election, it’s a trying time for the peace camp. Netanyahu has already declared that he is not bound by Prime Minister Olmert’s commitments and will neither evacuate settlements nor withdraw from West Bank territory! Indeed, the Likud doesn’t even list “Peace” as a separate heading under the “Issues” menu in its website!
If you search the party’s website a bit, you will find references to “peace” if you click on the “National Security” issue and scroll down a while, well below the most prominent issue, Iran. And here’s what you’ll learn at the Likud website:
- A Likud-led government won’t carry out any unilateral withdrawals
- A Likud-led government would reject any compromise on Jerusalem
- A Likud-led government would express no-confidence in negotiations with the Palestinians, since the process is “misguided”. Since the Palestinians aren’t ready for a historic compromise, goes the Likud argument, Israel should abandon the diplomatic track, and turn to developing the Palestinian economy instead.
No wonder, then, that when Prof. Naomi Chazan spoke with Meretz USA supporters last week by conference call (click here for an extensive summary of her remarks), she included a set of phrases that most members of the Israeli peace camp have traditionally shied away from:
Internationally imposed solution, assertive/coercive American diplomacy, a decision to move past the old Oslo process, the consideration of international trusteeship for the Palestinian territories. Desperate times require desperate measures, Prof. Chazan seemed to be hinting.
Perhaps we will yet be spared the image of a Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition, in which Avigdor Lieberman, now revealed by Haaretz to be a former member of the racist “Kach” movement, would certainly play a senior role. But unless all the pollsters have it wrong (and it’s happened before!) or the Israeli voter gets a quick change of heart, we will be looking at an Israeli government that – at best – is proposing to put the peace process into the deep freeze.
With the two-state solution in danger of diplomatic extinction if we don’t move fast, Prof. Chazan’s emphasis on new “creative” strategies for peace must be taken to heart.
Gideon Levy seems to agree. He writes that the only way to reach peace is to have an Israeli right-wing government, so that the rest of the world – including the US – will bring the pressure.