With the start of the election campaign, the major parties are displaying a worrying tendency to put social, economic and security issues at the top of the agenda while evading the diplomatic issue at the root of Israel's democratic identity.
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As Akiva Eldar reported yesterday, according to official figures, around 5.9 million Jews and 6.1 million non-Jews live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Thus, from the international community's point of view, there is a non-Jewish majority under Israel's control and responsibility. The unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip did not sever the enclave from its Israeli umbilical cord; in the absence of another sovereignty, international law sees Israel as the sovereign in Gaza. The Oslo Accords define the West Bank and Gaza Strip as one political entity.
In June last year, the Jewish People Policy Institute presented the forecast by demographer Sergio DellaPergola that a Palestinian majority can be expected within a few years between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had no interest in the demographic balance between the river and sea. "I am interested in there being a solid Jewish majority in the State of Israel, within its borders as they will be defined," he said.
But Netanyahu's refusal to resume talks with the Palestinians based on the 1967 borders and land swaps, and his support for the settlement enterprise have thwarted the attempt to define Israel's borders. The loss of faith in Israel's willingness to realize a two-state solution amplifies the Palestinian voices in the territories that want the struggle against the occupation turned into a struggle for equal political rights between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
Under the current prime minister, who vehemently demands that the Palestinian leaders recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, a binational reality has developed in the territories under Israel's control. We should expect this grave failure to stand at the center of the election campaign.
With great folly, the Labor Party under Shelly Yacimovich has relegated this existential issue to the sidelines of the political debate. She shares responsibility for the Israeli public's loss of faith in peace and the perpetuation of the discriminatory and disastrous binational reality.