A Different View on Israel

When will the Israeli Government deal with the Palestinian Issue?

In the past couple of months, Israel has gone through the most significant changes almost since the establishment of the State. Slowly but surely, democratic principles and procedures are being restored and the State and its government are step-by-step, returning to how a State and a government should work in a democratic environment.

After years of increasingly diminishing of democracy, and the encroachment of dictatorial rule, Israel has left Binyamin Netanyahu behind in the opposition and a new government has been established that is restoring government rule to what it needs to be: in the service of the people.

A group of (mostly) young intelligent people has been active as Israel’s new government since June and each and every one of them knows what is expected of him (or her).

The formation of this coalition was no mean feat and required that all parties knew to relinquish some of their principles and sometimes agree not to agree. While many have said that the main issue uniting these parties, “Just not Bibi”, is too small a basis to form a stable government on, the past three months have proven otherwise and while each minister is striving to fulfil his promises to the public and honor his own principles, “Just not Bibi” has allowed them to move forward and find the majority needed to do so.

The limits put on the coalition by its founders, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennet, have made it possible for right-wing ministers to be able to live with Ra’am, the Arab party, because Mansour Abbas has been very careful to deal with civilian issues, in particular those concerning the Bedouin in the Negev, and not become too outspoken on other sensitive issues. All ministers concerned have agreed that crime in the Arab sector of Israel’s population needs to be dealt with forthwith, as a human and inland security issue and not a political one and the Arab population may slowly start to see results.

Issues in the Health sector, Education, Transportation, etc. are being identified and dealt with, and, while nothing will change overnight, the change in the attitude has raised expectations and results will be forthcoming.

A government that includes both the two main left-wing parties in Israel, one of the Arab parties, and three right-wing parties, is a unique phenomenon in Israel. There have been left-right coalitions in the past and some of them did work, but an Arab party was never included in an Israeli coalition agreement and it must be hoped that this is not a one-time or short-term occurrence and that the Arab population will be included more and more in the political process.

But such a government, including this one, can expected longevity only if very strict agreements are reached, and that those agreements are being kept by all. This government, while agreeing and acting on many highly neglected civilian and social issues, have made the decision to leave one thing out of the picture completely: the efforts to make peace (or at least come to some sort of agreement) with the Palestinians. On one hand it is understandable since the disagreements even between the Jewish right- and left-wing parties are so deep, that simple no possibilities exist to move forward even one inch on the Palestinian issue, and Ra’am would certainly be an unavoidable obstacle for any right-wing move on the issue.

So the decision was made (apparently), that the best option on the Palestinian issue is to do nothing. No, to annexation or excessive building in the Occupied Territories. No to a Two-State solution.

Again, with the ostensible overriding demand to remove Netanyahu from office in the balance, it is understandable that this is the result. And this government will, given a chance, repair a lot of the damage that was done by the previous governments, stop the neglect of so many issues over the past years, and maybe most important, restore the confidence of the people in their leaders.

And of course, the Palestinian issue has been neglected by previous governments as well, and not only Netanyahu’s. From Golda Meir claiming that the Palestinian people don’t exist, to Yitzhak Shamir and others, Israel always had the privilege of the strong and often actively prevented any steps towards the solution of the “Palestinian Problem”.

While many of the current ministers were not yet born or were very small when Israel occupied the West Bank of the Jordan, and they do not know their country otherwise than an occupying power, suppressing another people, sometimes very violently, most of them are intelligent enough to see the side effects the Occupation has, on Israeli Society, its standing in the world, and its nationalist fanaticism. And while a temporary halt (in contrast to the permanent halt of Netanyahu) may be justified, the problem will not go away by itself and will need to be dealt with at some point.

For the good of the Palestinians but even more for the good of us, Israelis.

I hope you found this article interesting and I welcome any comments you may have.

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