FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bibi’s Last Gasp Electoral Promise

The “I told you so” school of commentary is bound to be out in force after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-electoral statement on his opposition to a Palestinian state. It clarified what many had been suspicious about: his genuine non-commitment, not merely to peace with the Palestinians, but the idea of a Palestinian state.

In 2009, Netanyahu addressed an audience at Bar Ilan University making statements that were barely believable, but nonetheless part of the rhetorical moment necessity sometimes demands.[1] “We are gathered this evening in an institution named for two pioneers of peace, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and we share in their vision.”

But reading between the chosen lines, and you could already see where the Netanyahu reasoning would take you. Palestinians had to “recognise the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land”. Not doing so would impair discussions. As for stateless Palestinians, “We do not want to rule over them, we do not want to govern their lives, we do not want to impose either our flag or our culture on them.” His vision: “two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect.”

Instead, Bibi has continued construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and taken a mad-dog approach to Iran which has worked in some segments of the Israeli electorate. The fear for him, however, is whether that same electorate, for all its angst, is suffering “Bibi fatigue”. The Labor Party, rebranded the Zionist Union, and Hatnua might be able to pull off more seats combined than Likud, but the complicated mathematics of coalitions will have to play out.

Such marked hollowness was all but confirmed on Monday, when an electorally geared Netanyahu came clean on his vision about the Palestinians and their state aspirations. On a video interview published on the right-leaning news site, NRG, the prime minister outlined his revised position, which should be regarded as a position he never strayed from. “I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to radical Islam against the state of Israel.”

The interpretative spin put on this is one of fluid change and disturbing circumstances, rather than the issue of Palestinian statehood per se. But it also suggests a conventional spitting in the eye of one’s opponent – Palestinians can’t be trusted with their sovereignty, in the event Islamic terrorism spearheaded by Iran takes root. Ergo, Palestinians can never have statehood, for to allow it would give birth to permanent barricades on Israel’s doorstep.

The Prime Minister’s Office also released a statement of clarification, which suggested that Bibi had been thinking in that way all along. Netanyahu “has made clear for years that given the current conditions in the Middle East, any territory that is given will be seized by the radical Islam just like what happened in Gaza and southern Lebanon.”[2]

A weekly Shabbat pamphlet, authored by Tzipi Hotovely, came close in describing the long standing Netanyahu sentiment: “Netanyahu’s entire political biography is a fight against the creation of a Palestinian state.”[3]

A good dose of demonising was also thrown in ahead of Tuesday’s elections. Likud is seemingly trailing its rivals, calling for a good round of old fashioned scare mongering. Vote for the left, and you would essentially be voting for fifth columnists with an internationalist agenda fashioned outside Israel. “There is a real threat here that a left-wing government will join the international community and follow its orders.” This following of orders would comprise the freezing of construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and a move towards a dreaded return to Israel’s 1967 borders (Haaretz, Mar 16).[4]

This warning hardly fits. The main contender Isaac Herzog of the centre-left Zionist Union is barely brimming with optimism about agreement with the Palestinians either. He has even suggested, just to give him some electoral legroom, that any agreement on a two-state solution might be impossible. To cover his progressive base, he pays lip service to the idea. A good dose of pessimism regarding peace negotiations is always deemed a mandatory tonic in Israeli political cycles.

The Herzog strategy has been, instead, to focus on Bibi as a loose canon, alienator in chief, estranger par excellence. Relations with Washington have taken a good bruising at the hands of Netanyahu’s megalomania. Israel risks further isolation with its various stances regarding negotiations with Iran. Then there is the issue of the price of living, a frightening prospect for Israelis given the increase of prices by 55 per cent from 2008 to 2013. Israel has a chronic housing crisis. And while prices rise, the prime minister has been gorging on his takeout menu, a point noted in a state comptroller report by Joseph Haim Shapira.[5]

Against estrangement, Herzog is angling for being “a prime minister for everyone. For right and left, for settlers, Haredim, Druze, Arabs, Circassians; I will be prime minister for the centre and for the periphery.” But the great casualty in the electoral rhetoric must remain the two state solution. At least we know that, for Palestinian statehood to be recognised, Netanyahu must be forgotten.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Notes.

[1] http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/PressRoom/2009/Pages/Address_PM_Netanyahu_Bar-Ilan_University_14-Jun-2009.aspx

[2] http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.645912

[3] http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.645912

[4] http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel-election-2015/1.647212

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/18/world/middleeast/israeli-inquiry-faults-netanyahus-over-expenses.html

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail