Herzog and Livni Cooking Up a Sad, Sorry Soup

Livni has proven that she can change her mind at a dizzying pace - but we have yet to hear her opinion about the collective rights of Israeli Arabs.

Tali Meyer

“The people want to oust the president!” shouted the demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square four years ago. And the president really was ousted, but the economic crisis remained, freedom of expression did not flourish and citizens’ rights did not prosper. Instead of the old general, Egypt got a new general.

“The people want to oust Bibi,” says the center-left in Israel, which yesterday chose its future defense minister, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin. And what will the people get? The slogan “Anyone but Bibi” is supposed to cause even the murky concoction in which Avigdor Lieberman of the “nationalist camp” will float together with Isaac Herzog of the “Zionist Camp” to look edible. But where’s the beef? Until now the public has not been presented with a single diplomatic or economic plan with which to fill the new bowl.

“A government that we head will oppose any unilateral step by the Palestinian Authority. We will know how to mobilize the support of international community, in order to provide the diplomatic umbrella required for the actions of the army,” asserted Herzog and Tzipi Livni following the decision of the International Criminal Court in The Hague to adopt the Palestinians’ lawsuit against Israel. After such decisiveness, will they be able to talk to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the man who “unilaterally” initiated Palestine’s joining of the international tribunal? Defense Minister-designate Yadlin has already explained that he doesn’t consider Abbas a partner, nor does he value the paper on which the Saudi peace initiative is written, and he is instead banking on unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the territories. Correction: from territories, in other words from certain areas that Israel now controls.

Herzog and Livni are very familiar with Yadlin’s opinions; are they also adopting his philosophy? If so, there is no need to aspire to negotiations with the Palestinians and they would do well to stop selling them as the main reason to vote for them. “Jerusalem is in our souls and not only as an election slogan. It is the obligation of any leadership in Israel to strengthen Jerusalem and to fortify its status as Israel’s eternal capital,” declared Livni when she visited the Western Wall early in the month. “I see Jerusalem serving as two political capitals: In East Jerusalem the capital of the Palestinian state, and in the west of the city, the capital of the Jewish state,” said Herzog a year ago in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth. Which of the two Zionist Camp leaders should we believe?

“When it happens [the establishment of a Palestinian state] I can come to the Palestinian citizens of Israel, whom we now call Israeli Arabs, and tell them that your national solution is to be found elsewhere,” was Livni’s message seven years ago. A person is allowed to change her mind over the years, and Livni has proven that she is capable of doing so on several issues, sometimes even at a dizzying pace, but we have yet to hear her opinion about the collective rights of Israeli Arabs. We have yet to understand whether Herzog agrees with the views expressed by Livni seven years ago, and whether he will sit in the same government with Lieberman, who is already busy recruiting trucks to carry out the transfer (of Israeli Arabs to the Palestinian state).

Will Herzog and Livni invite elected Arab officials to participate in the coalition or the government? Not that they have anything to worry about; the Arabs won’t join the government. They don’t believe that even a center-left government will stop the building of the settlements, and in any case there’s no point in joining a government that within a short time will kick them out of their seats because they’ll vote against its decisions. But the intention, the gesture, the stretching out of the hand of the “Zionist camp” are just as important.

We have to admit that the chance of ousting Bibi fills our hearts with hope. And for that reason alone we have to place the right ballot in the ballot box. Apparently that is also the feeling of those who purchase lottery tickets, between one lottery drawing and the next – “If you don’t fill one in, how can you win?” The problem is that for now, the tempting and colorful package being offered by the “Zionist Camp” is stuffed with styrofoam.