The leader of Israel’s main opposition party, Labour chair Avi Gabbay, is currently making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Yesterday, Gabbay told Israeli television that he opposed discussing the removal of even the most isolated illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The remarks came a day after Gabbay told a meeting of party activists that “the Arabs have to be afraid of us”. He added: “They fire one missile – you fire 20. That’s all they understand in the Middle East”. Read more
The settlers of the Amona outpost are but a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands who live in colonies, established by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory since 1967. Their fate has seen Benjamin Netanyahu challenged by the pro-settler right both inside and outside his coalition government.
For some, the fact that the court-mandated removal of settlers living on privately owned Palestinian land is taking place at all proves that Israel is not, in fact, being led by the “settler lobby”.
For others, the fact that such a protest, and contrived “compromise”, can be generated over one outpost suggests that a large-scale settler withdrawal is perhaps impossible. Read more
Speaking at a media-friendly photo opportunity in occupied East Jerusalem this month, Israeli Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog declared the need for a “disengagement” between Israelis and the Palestinians, “not by withdrawing from the territories, but by separating us physically”.
Two months earlier, Herzog had announced a new plan “to separate from as many Palestinians as possible, as fast as possible”, describing the two-state solution asimpossible under current conditions. The opposition leader’s proposal: to complete the separation wall around so-called “settlement blocs” in the West Bank, and to cut off major Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem from the rest of the city. The Labor Party has officially approved the plan. Read more
“We are here to stay.” These were the words of Israel’s Science and Space Technology Minister Ophir Akunis, as he attended the ceremonial opening of a new “heritage centre” in Ariel settlement on 17 January. “I want to send the EU ministers a message from here, the city of Ariel,” the minister said. “No step or decision that you take will remove us from our land.”
Ariel, established in 1978, is one of the largest Israeli settlements in the West Bank, with some 20,000 residents, as well as a university. The colony lies some 12 miles from the “Green Line”, and was “strategically built to wind its way along a mountain ridge surrounded by Palestinian towns and villages on all sides.” The Ariel “finger”, or bloc, includes a dozen or so separate, official settlements. Read more
Israel’s ongoing military occupation of the West Bank and enforced siege on Gaza Strip, with its illegal policies from land colonization and settlements to blockade and collective punishment, has led to mounting frustration with the country’s conduct in political circles internationally. At the level of civil society in particular, this anger has found expression in a growing boycott.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign has been taken up globally and attracts new sympathizers every day. A key sticking point, however, between the movement’s supporters, and those among its opponents who acknowledge Israel’s human rights abuses, concerns BDS’ impact. According to critics, isolation strengthens the Israeli right and alienates an embattled Israeli left. Read more
Speaking in Washington DC last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry described “the current situation” between Israel and the Palestinians as “simply not sustainable”.
The senior diplomat reaffirmed that his government sees a “two-state solution” as “the only viable alternative” to the status quo. “Anybody who thinks otherwise,” he added, “can measure what unitary looks like by just looking at what’s been occurring over the past few weeks.” Read more
In his speech to AIPAC last year, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu referred 18 times to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. A year on, and it is clear that for Bibi, BDS is the new public enemy number one. Denounced as an antisemitic “strategic threat,” the Palestinian-led, global campaign to pressure Israel into ending systematic rights violations is now very much in Tel Aviv’s cross-hairs.
Ironically, it is during Netanyahu’s time in office that BDS has made considerable headway. His ambiguity over Palestinian statehood (in public, veering between rejection and unreliable endorsement) is exacerbated by the unambiguous views of his hard-right ministers and coalition partners. Then there was the unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, also under Bibi’s watch, and a slew of anti-democratic, hyper-nationalist legislative initiatives. Read more
When Israelis go to the polls next week, PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s only serious challenger will be Labour’s Isaac Herzog. The latter heads up the Zionist Union joint-ticket, an alliance with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party.
Since 2009, Netanyahu and his allies in the Knesset have frustrated the efforts of the U.S. and international community to advance the official peace process. Just two days ago, Netanyahu clarified that should he win re-election, there will be “no concessions and no withdrawals [from the Occupied Palestinian Territory].”
But what of Herzog and Livni? What if, when the dust settles, the Zionist Union is invited to head the next Israeli government? What is the alliance’s position on the Palestinians and the peace process? Well now we know. Read more