Israel's Left-wing Ministers Are Silent

Haaretz Editorial
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An Israeli settler rides a donkey in the recently established wildcat outpost of Evyatar, earlier this week
An Israeli settler rides a donkey in the recently established wildcat outpost of Evyatar, earlier this weekCredit: Reuters
Haaretz Editorial

One wonders what Israeli Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, Labor’s chairwoman, thinks about Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s claim that the plan agreed on between the government and the settlers at the outpost of Evyatar is “an important achievement in the settlement of the Land of Israel.”

One wonders no less what the chairman of Meretz, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, thinks about settler leader Daniella Weiss’ welcoming of the achievement and her statement: “Who would have imagined that this government would find the noble way to discuss without arm-twisting, but rather with appreciation for the builders of the land.”

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It’s hard to know what they think because out of a desire to keep the coalition together, a disturbing silence has fallen over the left with regard to destructive actions like the Evyatar agreement. It seems that while the right wing can do whatever it feels like and legitimize an illegal outpost, the left wing has taken to heart the cliché that this is a complex government in which “not all the ideological desires of the left will be met.”

The agreement between the government and the settlers is not a compromise; it’s surrender. The lawbreakers from Evyatar are indeed supposed to move out of the outpost by the end of the week, but the approximately 40 houses built there will remain, an army base will be built and the state will examine the status of the land. If it turns out that the outpost can be legalized, the residents of Evyatar will return to these houses. This is a clear victory of the settler right wing, which recalls the way Sebastia was settled at the time.

The establishment of the current government was necessary to replace former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But it’s a long way from that goal to granting sweeping permission to extreme moves that hurt the Palestinians and deepen the occupation.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was once the director general of the Yesha Council of settlements, and his colleague Shaked is a hardline right-winger who supports the continuation and expansion of the occupation. Their position is known, and there’s probably no ideological gap between them and the settlers of Evyatar. But that is precisely the reason that there are representatives of left-wing parties in this government, like Labor and Meretz. Their role is to balance out the ideological right wing, in word and deed. If not, their presence in the government is just a fig leaf whose role is to conceal a right-wing government.

It’s unacceptable that those who presume to represent the left in the government will give up the struggle in advance and leave Defense Minister Benny Gantz and the security establishment alone at the front. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also prefers to extend a public hand in peace on his visit to the United Arab Emirates, but at the same time he is silent on Evyatar. Except for Meretz MK Mossi Raz, it’s quiet on the left. Instead of dealing with the temperature of the air-conditioning on the trains, Michaeli and her colleagues should wake up before they miss the train entirely.

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

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