The Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu is a coalition that includes open opponents of Palestinian statehood. Many of these hard-right rejectionists, supporters of expanding the illegal West Bank colonies, occupy senior positions within the cabinet.
Given this political reality, some politicians and analysts in the West suggest that if only the Israeli government was led or at least more influenced by 'centrists', then progress in negotiations with the Palestinians would be possible.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who has also been serving as Israel's chief negotiator in the collapsed US-led peace talks, is often considered the kind of 'moderate' that everyone from Brussels to Washington – and indeed, Ramallah – would prefer as premier.
Last Friday, Israel's Economy Minister Naftali Bennett took to Facebook in order to respond to comments from Livni about ceding territory in the context of a deal with the Palestinians. Bennett affirmed that his position on the matter was informed by both political rationale, as well as his belief that "the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel."
Livni's response was instructive. Posting on her Facebook account, Livni accused Bennett of opposing a peace agreement even at the potential "cost" of "the international isolation of Israel, economic collapse and ostracizing." She continued:
You know what, Bennett? I too believe in the historical right of the People of Israel over all of The Land of Israel, but unlike you I also believe in the right of young people and the future generations to live in a Jewish and democratic state, [a] secure [state], with recognized borders and [a state] being a part of the free world, a state which [they] can take pride in, and in Zionism which had established it.
Livni then added: "My interest is not to establish a state for the Palestinians, but to give our young ones this state and this future in The Land of Israel."
Israel's Justice Minister, in other words, believes that all of historic Palestine belongs to the Jewish people – on this, Livni and Bennett are in agreement. In addition, Livni is clear that she is not motivated by a desire to establish a Palestinian state. Rather, her priorities are to protect both Israel's international standing, and Israel's Jewish majority.
Nothing here about international law, still less the Palestinian right to self-determination. Instead, it's all about the settler-colonial obsession with demographics, and a presentable apartheid. And this, from an Israeli 'centrist'. No wonder the boycott continues to grow.
Thanks to Ofer Neiman for translation.
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