The Collapse of the Status Quo in Israel


Jon Western over at Duck of Minerva (image from wikimedia commons):

Officially, the Israeli government is still committed to the two-state solution, but for all practical purposes, Netanyahu and the right wing have largely abandoned it. With the continual expansion of settlements, it becomes harder and harder every day to imagine that any future Israeli government will be willing to drive anywhere from 100k to nearly a quarter of a million settlers out of the West Bank – even if the Palestinians accept territorial exchange for blocks of settlements. As of last week, the most immediate task for Netanyahu to preserve the status quo was to break the Palestinian unity government between the PA and Hamas that developed last month following the collapse of Kerry’s peace talks earlier this spring. The IDF response in Hebron and elsewhere in the search for the missing teens was designed to find the boys and to wedge the PA from Hamas.

More broadly, prior to the escalation of violence in the last six days, life for most Israelis has been pretty easy. The security situation has been relatively calm. And, even though the entire Middle East is in turmoil, there is some sense that this has actually been to some benefit to Israel. Hezbollah and Iran both have their hands full in Lebanon and Syria with the recent actions of ISIS and other Sunni extremists. The economy is doing well. Indeed, a common lament up until the last few days in Tel Aviv is that the hardest thing about life there is getting a reservation at any one of the dozens of new upscale restaurants.

We also met with Dani Dayan, a leading figure in the settler movement. A few weeks earlier, he had published a seemingly conciliatory op-ed in the New York Times in which he spoke about reconciliation with the Palestinians. But, when pressed deeper about the details – in particular, what exactly is the alternative if the two-state solution is dead, he said a one-state solution was untenable given the demographics in which Palestinians would soon constitute a majority. Instead, he argued that a “normalized” status quo was both acceptable and sustainable. He said the settlements should be allowed to continue with Israeli government support. He noted that Israeli politics had increasingly turned and has much stronger settler representation than ever. Even the IDF has changed and many of its officers come from the settler communities – they will never force Israelis off of their lands in Judea and Samaria. In short, he argued that it was time to recognize the real situation and “normalize” the occupation.

More here.