A Year of Recovery From Netanyahu

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The funeral of Raed Jadallah, 39, killed by Israeli forces in his West Bank village this week.
The funeral of Raed Jadallah, 39, killed by Israeli forces in his West Bank village this week.Credit: Majdi Mohammed / AP

The past year was a year of recovery from 12 years of Benjamin Netanyahu. He weakened our democratic institutions, as indicated by the State Comptroller’s Report on the coronavirus pandemic, and behaved like an autocrat.

He put us through four election campaigns in an effort to evade his criminal trial, and, mainly, he managed to convince the public that he removed the Palestinian problem from the agenda. There is no question that resolving the conflict is receiving less attention than it has for decades, but to say that it’s gone entirely is an illusion. The Palestinians are here, they aren’t going anywhere.

Netanyahu made an effort to eliminate the option of a two-state solution – the only possible solution for implementing the vision of equality – and that’s why we are repressing the Palestinian issue. He left us with two options: to live with the reality of an apartheid state in the West Bank or to live in a binational state.

It would be a delusion to think it’s possible to cause two nations, with a river of blood flowing between them, one of whom that feels its nationalist goals have been fractured and won’t rest until the fracture is healed, to live under a single national framework. And that’s the iceberg on our horizon, that’s what we’re so afraid of that we don’t dare to face it, preferring instead to repress it. But repression is not a solution. The iceberg is there, and we are swiftly approaching it.

Despite the declaration by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett after the meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, to the effect that “We won’t establish a Palestinian state,” the meeting of Defense Minister Benny Gantz with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, was important. Such gestures are always important. The attacks against Gantz on the part of “senior ministers” are foolish and damaging.

But the gesture is far from sufficient. If Gantz really wants to be useful, he must harness all the power of the defense establishment to fight the daily attacks of settlers against Palestinians. He has to rein in the army, which has killed over 40 Palestinians in recent months. And no, a change in the status of several thousand Palestinians in the West Bank who lack residential status is not a solution - it’s a band-aid.

I am well aware of the complexity of the new government. But as opposed to Ravit Hecht's piece in Haaretz published on Sunday, I don’t believe that the solution is economic peace. And it’s not about “leftists with dreams,” but about those who demand equality and justice and are opposed to the normalization of Jewish arrogance: We deserve nationality and a state, they deserve a few crumbs. Here, we’ll remove a checkpoint, there, we’ll allow people to work.

All that is important – every removal of the boot from the necks of the Palestinians is important – but it’s not the solution, it’s part of the process of repression. The Palestinians are here, their nationalism is here, and nations don’t give that up unless they are crushed.

The coming year should be a year of a return to reality. Of understanding that controlling the Palestinians harms not only the Palestinians - it undermines our foundations. Of understanding that if they don’t have human rights, neither will we. The government’s plan to concentrate solely on social issues, and to postpone discussion of the diplomatic issue for four years, clashes with this vision of equality, and it means that we will have fewer options.

It’s time that will be wasted, a time of casualties and bitterness on both sides. This year we have to come to our senses, look directly at the iceberg, then seize the empty post of the helmsman and, with all our might, turn the ship around. Give us peace.

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