The Israeli centrists’ main criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu is that his strategy is only to maintain the status quo. They say that Netanyahu does not want to solve the Palestinian problem and sign a lasting agreement. I would say that Livni and [Isaac] Herzog have the ability to better maintain the status quo than Netanyahu – and this is dangerous. Netanyahu challenged the international community’s interests and the United States’ policies towards the peace process. He was very arrogant and pressed forward to build more settlements and expand [existing] ones.
We are facing the hardest right-wing political campaign in Israel’s history. The micro-level strategic differences are not the most important issues right now. The situation on the ground is that Israel is confiscating land and demolishing homes; Palestinians are enduring violence and poverty; and Arab Knesset members and political activists are being persecuted.
Netanyahu lacks the political savvy of Livni and others like her, who want to satisfy the international community without solving the Palestinian problem or making any dramatic policy changes.
They will not withdraw to the 1967 borders. The most they can offer to any Palestinian leadership is far less than what Palestinians could ever accept.
Livni and Herzog don’t share Netanyahu’s violent and racist rhetoric; but they will continue policies to Judaise the Negev and Galilee regions, and they will continue trying to institutionalise Jerusalem as the ‘united and undivided capital’ of Israel.
On all of these issues I see no difference. In fact, they are more dangerous because they use a more moderate political discourse when addressing the international community.
But the only way to make Israel accountable is to isolate it internationally. As Palestinians we don’t believe that Israel will change from within. It will take the world isolating Israel and freezing all relations on both economic and political levels. Israel will never change as long as it doesn’t have to pay the price for its policies.
In the case of Zionist Camp it’s the decision to support the disqualification of MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) from running for the Knesset. With a left like this, we don’t need Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman anymore; Likud’s Yariv Levin will do just fine.
The only hope that Zionist Camp had managed to create was that at least it would stop the crushing of democracy by the right wing. People like Herzog, MKs Tzipi Livni, Shelly Yacimovich, Merav Michaeli and Stav Shaffir know a thing or two about the dangers to democracy that lurk here. They also know that democracy’s real test is in its attitude to the Arabs and the radical left. Now this last hope has been dashed.
If Zionist Camp disqualifies Zoabi, a brave, authentic and legitimate candidate who hasn’t hurt a fly and who reflects the views of her voters, the Arabs of Israel and lovers of democracy will know: On this issue too, there is no difference between the right wing and this left wing. After Herzog announced that “in the war on terror there is no difference,” now there’s no difference in the war on “Zoabis.” So what do we have this whole camp for? For Manuel Trajtenberg [the economist identified with the 2011 social protests, now on the Zionist Camp ticket]?
On the legal-political background, see Aeyal Gross in Ha’aretz:
The petition submitted in recent days to the Central Election Committee seeking the disqualification of MK Haneen Zoabi, which has a high likelihood of being approved, was made possible by two 2002 amendments to the Basic Law: The Knesset. Until then, the Basic Law permitted only the disqualification of an entire slate of candidates, on the basis of its denying Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, or for racist incitement. The 2002 amendment made possible the outlawing of an individual candidate, and added the justification of “support for armed struggle of an enemy state or terrorist organization against the State of Israel.”
The timing of the amendment, two years after the outbreak of the second intifada, indicates that the original intent was for this clause to be implemented against Arab MKs who expressed support for the Palestinian struggle. Due to this clause (as well as the one regarding denial of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state), Arab lists and candidates were outlawed by the Central Election Committee, made up of MKs and chaired by a Supreme Court justice, time after time. However, these rulings were almost never upheld by the Supreme Court.