Independence for Both Peoples

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding a security meeting at the IDF's Southern Command, May 6, 2019.
Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Israel will begin its 71st Independence Day celebrations Wednesday evening; the enjoyment will be diluted by the knowledge of the price, in blood and despair, exacted by the last round of violence in Gaza. Four Israeli civilians and 25 Palestinians were killed in another bloody campaign. The events of the past few days, like the rest of the wars and operations, demonstrate the diplomatic dead end that has been reached.

Even though a cease-fire was reached, it is likely that the violence will resume soon, that new rocket barrages will again force large numbers of Israelis into bomb shelters and wreak additional death and misery. The first to admit this depressing fact is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, in contrast to his enthusiasm for pre-empting televisions broadcasts for his war against the judicial system, refrains from addressing the public in times of crisis, as rocket sirens wail. On Monday, he said in a statement: “The campaign is not over. ... We are prepared to continue.”

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What is this continuation? What is Netanyahu’s plan for the day after, after he completes his scheme to sever the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, weaken the Palestinian Authority and preserve Hamas rule? What is the solution the prime minister is offering to residents of the south, who have suffered from an intolerable routine for years, especially in the past year? How does he mean to deal with the consequences of the equation he has created, according to which Israel understands only force and violence and strengthens those who attack its citizens while weakening and humiliating those who shrink from violence and terrorism and have chosen the diplomatic path?

Ironically, in the Netanyahu’s era it is not Hamas that is deterred but rather the Israeli left, which can and must call out and cry out against Netanyahu’s security swindle. In the face of the silence of the flagship of the opposition, Kahol Lavan party, we must reiterate what most Israelis insist on repressing: It’s impossible to “manage” the conflict, to conceal the Palestinian people and to ignore its troubles and legitimate demands — in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip — for independence and liberty. The occupation, which destroys every good part of Israeli society, hangs like a sword over Israel. It will continue to be a moral and strategic threat, irrespective of election results or who is sitting in the White House.

The fates of the Jewish and Palestinian peoples are intertwined, whether they want it or not. The happiness and welfare of the one depends on the other, and no statesman or general can erase that. Israel will never be genuinely independent until the Palestinians achieve genuine independence. These days are a painful reminder of these facts.

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