Three destructive trends threaten Israel's very existence as a Jewish and democratic state. The first is the continued occupation of the territories, which as of next month will have gone on for 43 years. Ruling over a large Palestinian population through forceful and nondemocratic means compromises Israel's moral case and destroys its image in the eyes of the international community, while buttressing extreme nationalist sentiment within the country.
The second destructive trend involves the expansion of the ultra-Orthodox community, whose members do not work and do not bear the burden of military service or paying taxes. Instead, they are dependent on welfare payments and they deprive their children of the kind of education that would give them the necessary skills to join the labor force.
The third destructive trend is the discrimination against and marginalization of Israel's Arab citizens, who want to study and to work but have difficulty finding employment and integrating into society. If these trends are not reversed, the Haredim will continue to be isolated at the expense of the shrinking core of Israelis who work and serve their country, while the Arabs, in the absence of opportunities, will be pushed to the margins of society. The shortage of working people will cause the Israeli economy to collapse.
The right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amplifies these destructive trends through its refusal to end the occupation, its insistence on supporting the settlement enterprise, its payoffs to the Haredi political parties and its declared policy of alienating Israeli Arabs and their aspirations.
In choosing to partner with Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu Netanyahu chose in favor of a policy that accelerates domestic collapse and whose results are only exacerbated by the prime minister's tendency to avoid making decisions.
In a weekend interview with Haaretz, opposition leader Tzipi Livni called for ending these destructive trends before it is too late. She also called for two strategic decisions to be taken: the first, to partition the country into two states, one Jewish and the other Palestinian; the second, to impose the teaching of a core curriculum to Haredim in order to enable them to integrate into the labor market. Livni is correct in demanding that both challenges, one related to the peace process and the other to domestic issues, be dealt with at the same time rather than deferring one in favor of the other.
Livni warned that time is of the essence and called on Likud to make common cause with Kadima to achieve a peace agreement and to put a stop to Haredi extortion. If the prime minister is concerned about the future of the country, he should accept this offer, change course and establish a government of national salvation.
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