The attempt to blame Arab lawmaker for the current political crisis must be utterly rejected. One would need quite a bit of gall to expect that the Arabs of all people would support laws that ensure apartheid in the West Bank, that perpetuates the inferior status of their Palestinian brethren in the Israeli military dictatorship and “regularizes” the privileges of the occupied civilians.
On Monday night, the Knesset rejected the extension of the emergency regulations applying Israeli law in the West Bank. MKs Mazen Ghanayim (United Arab List) and Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi (Meretz) voted against it, and UAL Chairman Mansour Abbas was absent from the vote. But the vote did not fail to pass because of the Arab lawmakers, but rather because of the supporters of the settlements in the opposition (including MK Idit Sliman, who was also absent). They, who might have been expected to defend that foul law, put another goal at the top of their agenda – bringing down the government – and were prepared to pay the price of allowing the regulations to lapse. They and only they bear the responsibility.
The current political move was led by Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar. Before the vote, he made it clear that extending the regulations “concerns the beating heart of the national interest of the State of Israel and Israeli society,” and that “destroying the legal association between Israel and Judea and Samaria and turning them de facto into two separate entities is a legal and national nightmare. And these things are right without reference to one political position or another.”
Sa’ar is intentionally misleading. His remarks are very much connected to “one political position or another.” Only the deep ideological right supports annexation, sees the existence of the settlement project as “the heart of the national interest of the State of Israel,” while opponents of the occupation, and certainly those on the left, see the settlement project as an international crime that undermines the possibility of peace between both peoples and want the settlements dismantled (even partially), territorial compromise and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
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Sa’ar also made it clear that from his point of view, “a member of the coalition who does not support [the extension of the regulations] is actively working to bring it down.” That is, he made clear that this is a red line over which it would be right to dismantle the government. But if Sa’ar is looking for people to blame for his failure, he should do so among the supporters of the settlements, and tell them the following: If you want emergency regulations in Judea and Samaria, you are invited to support the law. If you don’t – there will be no regulations and we’ll deal with the decision of the majority as is done in a democracy. If, on the other hand, Sa’ar wants to bring down the government because he dreams of returning to his old political home – that’s his right. But he should stop looking for Arab scapegoats to blame and conducting a political campaign on their backs.