Germany's Message: Make Peace Already

Bennett does not understand that economic and business plans are not made on the basis of fears and ideological wish fulfillment, but on the basis of facts.

Haaretz Editorial
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Haaretz Editorial

“Read my lips: A Palestinian state will crush Israel’s economy,” Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, head of Habayit Hayehudi, stated at a meeting of his party’s Knesset faction this week. But while Bennett is basing his prophecy of doom on scenarios of missiles in Herzliya and firing at airplanes above Tel Aviv, reality teaches us that the real economic danger to Israel stems from its obstinate refusal to make peace and its insistence on building settlements.

Germany’s government, one of Israel’s staunchest friends, said it is conditioning continued grants to Israeli high-tech companies, as well as the renewal of a scientific cooperation agreement, on the inclusion of a clause prohibiting Israeli companies in the West Bank settlements or East Jerusalem from receiving funding (Barak Ravid, January 23).

The statement’s significance far exceeds the economic damage it may cause. Unlike the European Union’s sanction threat in the Horizon 2020 agreement, here we’re dealing with a state that has declared intolerance for the continued occupation and the settlements’ existence. Germany’s leading status in the EU and the fact that it is a declared supporter of Israel charge its announcement with considerable influence. This influence could be interpreted into an escalation of European and international measures against the settlements and turn boycott initiatives of institutions and organizations into government policy.

Bennett, a former entrepreneur and currently an economic reformer, appears to have remained the Yesha Council of settlements’ CEO and the settlers’ envoy. He does not understand that economic and business plans are not made on the basis of fears and ideological wish fulfilment, but on the basis of existing facts. The facts include the Horizon 2020 affair, the boycott the Netherlands’ largest pension fund imposed on Israeli banks and summoning of Israel’s ambassadors in Europe for scolding following the cabinet’s announcement of accelerated construction in the settlements. They show what destruction lies in the continued policy to reject peace.

The senior businesspeople, industrialists and entrepreneurs who went to Davos are also aware of this and have sent a firm message to the prime minister to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, for the economy’s benefit.

Germany’s statement is an important signal, whose meaning is loud and clear − negotiations leading to an agreement are the only guarantee for security and the economy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel.Credit: AP

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