A PROBABLE CIVIL WAR IN ISRAEL
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Is Israel on the verge of civil war, as a growing number of Middle East commentators suggest, with its Jewish population deeply divided over the future of the occupation of Palestinian soil?
Such is the question asked by Jonathan Cook, British writer and journalist based in Nazareth, a specialist on Middle East issues who writes for The Guardian, Al Jazeera and other media, who attempted to answer it in a recent article.
Cook wrote that on one side is a new peace movement, Decision at 50, stuffed with former political and security leaders. Ehud Barak, a previous prime minister who appears to be seeking a political comeback, may yet emerge as its figurehead. The group has demanded the government hold a referendum next year – the half-centenary of Israel’s occupation, which began in 1967 – on whether it is time to leave the occupied territories. Its own polling shows a narrow majority ready to concede a Palestinian state.
On the other is Benjamin Netanyahu, in power for seven years with the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. Recently he posted a video on social networks criticizing those who want to end the occupation.
Cook wrote that whatever its proponents imply, the Decision at 50 referendum is about neither peace nor the Palestinians’ best interests. Its assumption is that yet again the Israeli public should determine unilaterally the Palestinians’ fate.
An Israeli consensus believes Gaza has been free of occupation since the settlers were pulled out in 2005, despite the fact that Israel still surrounds most of the coastal strip with soldiers, patrols its air space with drones and denies access to the sea.
The same unyielding, deluded Israeli consensus has declared East Jerusalem, the expected capital of a Palestinian state, as instead part of Israel’s “eternal capital”.
But the problem runs deeper still. When the new campaign proudly cites new figures showing that 58 per cent support “two States for two nations”, it glosses over what most Israelis think such statehood would entail for the Palestinians.
So what do Israelis think a Palestinian state should look like? Previous surveys have been clear. It would not include Jerusalem or control its borders. It would be territorially carved up to preserve the “settlement blocs”, which would be annexed to Israel. And most certainly it would be “demilitarized” – without an army or air force. In other words, Palestinians would lack sovereignty.
Such a state exists only in the imagination of the Israeli public. A Palestinian state on these terms would simply be an extension of the Gaza model to the West Bank.
Nonetheless, the idea of a civil war is gaining ground. Tamir Pardo, the recently departed head of Israel’s spy agency MOSSAD, warned before his death that Israel was on the brink of tearing itself apart through “internal divisions”. He rated this a bigger danger than any of the existential threats posited by Mr. Netanyahu, such as Iran’s supposed nuclear bomb.
But the truth is that there is very little ideologically separating most Israeli Jews. All but a tiny minority wish to see the
Palestinians continue as a subjugated people. For the great majority, a Palestinian state means nothing more than a makeover of the occupation, penning up the Palestinians in slightly more humane conditions.
According to Cook, Israeli moderates have had to confront the painful reality that their country is not the enlightened outpost in the Middle East they had imagined. Those who cannot stomach such a view will have to stop equivocating and take sides.
They can leave, as some are already doing, or stay and fight – not for a bogus referendum that solves nothing, but to demand dignity and freedom for the Palestinian people, advises Jonathan Cook.
September 22, 2016.