By Majed Al-Sheikh
Haim Ramon Former Labor minister Haim Ramon has led a continuous campaign in the Israeli media calling for the establishment of another ‘Apartheid Wall’ as an extension of the existing wall between Israeli and Palestinian municipalities. During its most recent conference, the Israeli Labor Party revived some of the features of what it called the “Compromise Solution”, which it has been promoting since the 1990s. This differs from the policies of the current government dominated by the right-wing. The Labor Party revived these ideas in its decision to prevent a “one-state solution” and achieve its “two-state” vision by adopting what it called the “Separation Plan”. This was discussed widely as it seeks to hand over a number of areas in the West Bank and some neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, in addition to completing the construction of another separation wall around the settlement blocs in the West Bank.
The decision also stipulated that in conjunction with this, civil privileges will be transferred to the Palestinian Authority and that Area B, which is under Israeli security control and Palestinian civil control, will be expanded “at the expense of areas under Israeli control today”. With regards to East Jerusalem, the Labor Party decided that it will work towards removing dozens of Palestinian villages surrounding Jerusalem from the control of the municipality.
Despite this proposal, this does not necessarily mean that it will lead to Israel’s complete withdrawal from the West Bank. However, the adoption of this plan, which is similar to what Benjamin Netanyahu is proposing in the “peace negotiations”, is a victory for Labour leader Isaac Herzog in the face of his critics, who claim that he does not have a clear political approach.
Former Labour minister Haim Ramon has led a continuous campaign in the Israeli media calling for the establishment of another “Apartheid Wall” as an extension of the existing wall between Israeli and Palestinian municipalities. This would facilitate the confiscation of more Palestinian land; the existing wall has already seized about 10 per cent of the occupied West Bank.
This basically constitutes the proposed separation plan, which will act as the framework for the political plan presented by the Labor Party. This prompted the Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy to criticize and oppose the party’s proposal by pointing out that Herzog’s old-new game is still characterized by discrimination: “They are there and we are here,” to paraphrase Ehud Barak.
“I wish to separate from as many Palestinians as possible, as quickly as possible,” Herzog told the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “Them over there and we over here; we’ll erect a big wall between us. That is the kind of co-existence that’s possible now.” Herzog used the word “separation” twenty times in his speech. Separation, he insisted, will preserve security and maintain the “Jewishness” of Jerusalem.
Also writing in Haaretz, Ephraim Sneh backed the Labor plan. “In the ‘90s, when we were talking to the Palestinians about an agreement, we created the phrase ‘Gaza and Jericho first’. The main opposition party’s new plan says ‘Jerusalem first’. The political courage behind this is praiseworthy. If the plan is carried out – and most Israelis agree with such a separation – we can move on to the solution that is indispensable – the two-state solution.”
Sneh believes that the international community, the countries that are committed to the Arab peace initiative, “must” support this separation plan for Jerusalem. “At the moment, no other plan can stop the deterioration that is bringing disaster to both peoples.”
Hence, given the current impasse in the negotiations and political solution, the Israeli opposition has no other choice than to revive what it adopted 25 years ago, with the addition of separation and the expansion of the Apartheid Wall. Labour knows better than anyone else that the current potential for an agreement is unlikely given the contrasting positions of the extreme right-wing government coalition that only seeks to prolong the current situation, which is the most suitable for it to turn Israel into a purely “Jewish state”, regardless of how long that might take.
This is opposite to a “two-state” or “binational state” options. Even if, in the future, an independent or center coalition government is established – which is unlikely – the staunchly partisan prevailing attitudes towards one of the most complicated issues of our time are likely to block any positive moves. All the while, the Palestinian national constants are being lost in favor of an alleged consensus due to the fluidity of the positions of the Palestinian Authority and factional leaderships.
(Translated by MEMO from Qudsnet, 25 February, 2016)