The Ravenous Occupation

Almost nothing is left of Rabin's rich legacy. Israel is being led by a gang whose attention and interests are devoted wholly to the settlers.

Right-wing group Matot Arim says the number of events held by ministers and MKs to promote the settlements and the settlers has increased by 50 percent. In a report, the group counts 150 such events, compared with 100 in its previous report, and it covers only the second half of 2011.

When Defense Minister Ehud Barak tried to convince me to join the government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, one of his main arguments was that the National Union party would remain outside. The numbers in the report show that you can take the National Union out of the coalition, but you can't take the coalition out of the National Union.

Settlers marching - Daniel Bar-On - 06032012
Daniel Bar-On

Netanyahu's coalition government is working overtime to expand, strengthen and entrench the settlement project. So the project continues to grow and devour huge budgets. So the settlers continue to establish facts on the ground.

It's easy to remember Netanyahu and his spokespeople trying to sling mud at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen ) and his demand for a total freeze on construction in the settlements as a condition for renewing talks. The Matot Arim report clearly proves that Abu Mazen is right. Coalition ministers and MKs are busy trying to placate the settlers, as if the settlers were the only ones who sent them to the legislature, as if no one were living in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Be'er Sheva and Israel's other cities.

In light of the report, Netanyahu's mantra - a call on the Palestinians to begin negotiations without preconditions - sounds like a new height of cynicism and contempt for the people's intelligence.

The authors award a medal to the chairman of the Likud faction and the coalition, who is first on the list of ministers and MKs. In the document, the politicians are ranked according to their achievements in promoting the settlements. There was a reason Netanyahu appointed Likud MK Zeev Elkin chairman of the faction and the coalition. Netanyahu knew that Elkin would deliver the goods and fulfill the dream of the prime minister, who is trying with all his might to be seen as a moderate.

Most coalition members envision the settlements growing and expanding until it is impossible to achieve a diplomatic arrangement that establishes a Palestinian state. This dream is shared by Elkin, Netanyahu and all the other politicians admired in the Matot Arim report, from Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar to Social Affairs Minister Moshe Kahlon. According to the report, you would think that two ministers, having completed all their tasks, devoted most of their time to nurturing the settlements and the settlers.

The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was born 90 years ago this week. Rabin was assassinated because he tried to offer the Israeli public hope and a new agenda, namely that the Galilee and the Negev come before the territories, and that peace and security are strategic objectives rather than a cheap tactic of people who say one thing but do the opposite.

Almost nothing is left of Rabin's rich legacy. Israel is being led by a gang whose attention and interests are devoted wholly to the settlers. Oh yes, I almost forgot, they want peace, they very much want peace. What a shame they have no partner on the other side.