Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Palestinian Rejoices in Netanyahu's Victory

An op-ed in The New York Times, by Palestinian Yousef Munayyer casts the powerful election win of Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as possibly the best news the subjugated Palestinian people could have hoped for.

IF anyone doubted where Benjamin Netanyahu stood on the question of peace, the Israeli prime minister made himself clear just before Tuesday’s election, proclaiming that there would never be a Palestinian state on his watch. Then he decided to engage in a bit of fear-mongering against Palestinian citizens of Israel in hopes of driving his supporters to the polls. “The right-wing government is in danger,” Mr. Netanyahu announced on Election Day. “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves.”

But Mr. Netanyahu’s victory is actually the best plausible outcome for those seeking to end Israel’s occupation. Indeed, I, as a Palestinian, breathed a sigh of relief when it became clear that his Likud Party had won the largest number of seats in the Knesset.
This might seem counterintuitive, but the political dynamics in Israel and internationally mean that another term with Mr. Netanyahu at the helm could actually hasten the end of Israel’s apartheid policies. The biggest losers in this election were those who made the argument that change could come from within Israel. It can’t and it won’t.

Israelis have grown very comfortable with the status quo. In a country that oversees a military occupation that affects millions of people, the biggest scandals aren’t about settlements, civilian deaths or hate crimes but rather mundane things like the price of cottage cheese and whether the prime minister’s wife embezzled bottle refunds.

For Israelis, there’s currently little cost to maintaining the occupation and re-electing leaders like Mr. Netanyahu. Raising the price of occupation is therefore the only hope of changing Israeli decision making. Economic sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s increased its international isolation and put pressure on the apartheid regime to negotiate. 

Once Israelis are forced to decide between perpetual occupation and being accepted in the international community, they may choose a more moderate leader who dismantles settlements and pursues peace, or they may choose to annex rather than relinquish land — provoking a confrontation with America and Europe. Either way, change will have to come from the outside.

Replacing Mr. Netanyahu with his challenger, Isaac Herzog, would have slowed down the B.D.S. movement and halted pressure on Israel by creating the perception of change. A new prime minister would have kick-started a new “peace process” based on previous failed models that would inevitably fail again because of a lack of real pressure on Israel to change its deplorable behavior.

The re-election of Mr. Netanyahu provides clarity. Two years ago Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the maximum time left for a two-state solution was two years. Mr. Netanyahu officially declared it dead this week in order to drive right-wing voters to the polls. The two-state solution, which has seen more funerals than a reverend, exists today only as a talking point for self-interested, craven politicians to hide behind — not as a realistic basis for peace.

The old land-for-peace model must now be replaced with a rights-for-peace model. Palestinians must demand the right to live on their land, but also free movement, equal treatment under the law, due process, voting rights and freedom from discrimination.


Anonymous said...

A Canadian said the other day here in Mexico, Palestine didn´t want land offered just after the IIWW when land had been offered to Isreal at the same time. What do you say to that? Anyong

The Mound of Sound said...

I guess I would say, "bullshit."

The Mound of Sound said...

By the way, if you want the long answer you should read "The Gun and the Olive Branch" by David Hirst. Still, it's the same, "bullshit."

Anonymous said...

Exactly what I said to him...I felt a bit bad after saying being a bit dogmatic. However got called a know-it-all-female. just a ha-ha. Anyong

Purple library guy said...

What would that even mean? Just after WW II there was no question of "offering" land, they already had it. It hadn't been taken away from them yet.
This sounds to me like one of these things where someone makes an argument by playing games with the idea of a nation so they can ignore the existence of actual people. So, like, there wasn't really a solid political entity of "Palestine" at the time, just a bunch of farmers and orchardists working land they'd lived on for many generations but which had up until recently been claimed by the Ottoman Empire. These farmers and orchardists had a collective cultural identity with some cohesion even at the time, but they didn't really have a political authority as I understand it. So, maybe the British (whose land it wasn't) offered something to some quisling like the Grand Mufti or somebody like that, but it's unlikely that had much relevance to all the people living in villages in Palestine.
Meanwhile, at the time the actual people in villages were being terrorized and driven off their land by proto-Israelis, some of whom brandished deeds purchased from Turkish absentee landlords or people who had pretended to be Turkish absentee landlords, others just killing and burning.
At the time the proto-Israelis also didn't have a legitimate political authority, only a couple of gangs of terrorists, and so also didn't really have anyone who could accept land if it were given to them, yet the Brits still got the UN to do so. If they had wanted to give the Palestinians a country of their own and rights to the land they had lived on since long before the Ottoman Empire, they certainly could have.

Beyond that, I imagine all this would have to relate to land within the 1948 borders. If Israel hadn't taken a bunch of extra land past the 1948 borders that nobody ever offered to them, protest about the land they stole within the 1948 borders might well have died down by now. It certainly isn't the main source of controversy about Israel today. So I don't see how a claim that at some point someone offered someone some land that the UN in 1948 gave to the new country of Israel and which has been off the table for decades, is relevant to discussions about land Israel invaded in 1967 and has refused to give back ever since.

It would even be better if Israel had truly annexed the land. That would mean Palestinians would be Israeli citizens. But the Israelis don't want any more Ay-rabs than necessary getting the vote, so they want it both ways: It's theirs in that they control it and want to keep it, but it's not theirs in that they refuse responsibility for it and the people on the land remain disenfranchised and stateless.

The Mound of Sound said...

There was no Palestine state because the Brits held it in a "mandate" from 1920 to 1948. As for the Israelis, remember Irgun and the Haganah. Anyone unfamiliar with them can check out Wiki.

Dana said...

Modern Israel was founded on terrorism and today feels most threatened by that upon which it was founded.

Where she stops nobody knows...

Anonymous said...

@Anyong: Here is the story of how the U.N. proposed to divide up Palestine:

From the above: "Under considerable Zionist pressure, the UN recommended giving away 55% of Palestine to a Jewish state – despite the fact that this group represented only about 30% of the total population, and owned under 7% of the land."

Are you surprised that the Palestinians refused the U.N. offer?

If the situation had been reversed, would the Zionists have accepted the offer?

The rest of the article was very eye opening for me ... you might want to read it too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anon for the link. Anyong