Editorial

Annexing the Left

Labor's Amir Peretz at a Labor Party conference, November 25, 2019.
Ohad Zwigenberg

The UN Human Rights Council published a list of 112 businesses that operate in the settlements on Wednesday. This isn’t a decision on boycotts or sanctions, but a database open to the public in accordance with international law and UN resolutions, both of which state that the settlements are illegal. It is specifically pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2334 from 2016, which urged UN member states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.”

Three years ago, to imbue that resolution with content, the Human Rights Council decided that a list should be drawn up of Israeli and international companies active in West Bank settlements, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. This list is what was published on Wednesday. But its publication drew wall-to-wall condemnations in Israel.

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President Reuven Rivlin – who just last month, at a ceremony commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz, urged Yad Vashem and the dozens of world leaders in attendance to defend democratic systems and values – termed the list a “shameful initiative which reminds us of dark periods in our history.” Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz said the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights “has lost all contact with reality,” while his partner in the party’s leadership, Yair Lapid, termed the high commissioner for human rights the “commissioner for terrorists’ rights” and threatened that “When we form a government, we’ll work against them with all our might.”

But the most surprising response came from the chairman of the Labor-Gesher-Meretz joint ticket, Amir Peretz, who said “We oppose boycotts, and outrageous and superfluous UN decisions. We’ll work in every forum to repeal this decision.” When even a ticket that ostensibly represents the left joins the chorus of condemnations, it’s clear that the line between sovereign Israel and the occupied territories has been almost completely obscured. Under the auspices of a pro-settler American government, the center-left bloc is finishing Israel’s process of denial of the fact that the settlements aren’t legal. The right’s propaganda has succeeded, and the left has internalized the lie that criticism of the occupation and the settlements is anti-Semitic.

The list’s publication is a painful reminder of what Israel under Benjamin Netanyahu, the settlers and their American supporters has tried to conceal and erase from memory. A real opposition would have seen the list as an opportunity to remind Israelis that only a diplomatic solution acceptable to both sides will end the conflict, and there’s no point in all the talk about unilateral annexation. Instead, the opposition has once against been revealed as a superfluous imitation of the right-wing government.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel