Zionist Union's Occupation Ostrich Policy Was a Major Factor in Its Defeat

Evading the most crucial problem facing Israel cannot be an option for the party that pretends to offer an alternative to Netanyahu.

Haaretz Editorial
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Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, co-leaders of Zionist Union, deliver a statement at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv March 18, 2015.
Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, co-leaders of Zionist Union, deliver a statement at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv March 18, 2015. Credit: Reuters
Haaretz Editorial

Zionist Union’s failure to replace the Netanyahu government has many reasons. One of the major ones is the Labor Party’s ongoing ostrich policy. Labor has been avoiding the issue of peace with the Palestinians for several years now, and especially the fateful issue of the continued occupation.

Shelly Yacimovich practiced this blurring policy in the 2013 elections, which ended in her defeat, and Isaac Herzog continued in the same vein in the present elections. He too failed.

In the past the left won the election when it dared to present a plan. In the 1992 elections Yitzhak Rabin undertook to implement the plan for Palestinian autonomy within six to nine months, and in 1999 Ehud Barak promised to withdraw from Lebanon within a year. They both won. Ehud Olmert, who in 2006 raised the convergence plan for unilateral withdrawal from most of the West Bank, also won the election that year.

What did the left wing propose this time? Apart from slogans about the “cost of living” and “a third kindergarten assistant,” Zionist Union had no real plan regarding the Palestinians. Hollow talk about resuming the peace negotiations and promising to stop the construction beyond the settlement blocs in the West Bank are no plan to end the occupation.

While Netanyahu removed all his masks and presented his right-wing nationalist truth as it is, Herzog was afraid to commit to any move that might have been controversial. The result was that the Zionist Union offered its voters nothing concerning the peace process.

Behind this contemptible conduct lies a lack of courage. It’s possible that presenting a far-reaching plan would have driven away a few of the voters at first, but there’s no substitute for telling the voters the truth. The whole truth.

Evading the most crucial problem facing Israel – the continued occupation, which was established nearly 48 years ago by Labor governments – cannot be an option for any party. Certainly not for one that pretends to offer an alternative.

The continued occupation must not be ignored. It is tightly linked to other major issues – beginning with Israel’s international status and security, through its moral image to its economic situation.

Herzog and Tzipi Livni chose to obfuscate. Nobody knew where they were heading as far as the occupation is concerned. They did not present a real alternative and the voter gave them what they deserved.



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