Congratulations. You’ve won the elections.
The year is 2016. The long absence of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, a massive buildup of Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank, and a fragile but enduring unity between Fatah and Hamas has convinced most Israelis that the idea of a negotiated agreement based on a two-state model is defunct. Your party and coalition partners ran on a platform of immediate annexation of the West Bank to Israel, and you have just formed a government.
Now, Mister or Madam Prime Minister, I would like to ask you a few Questions:
When Israel annexes the West Bank, will all its Palestinian-Israeli citizens immediately receive full and equal civil rights? If not, what civil rights will be denied them? And how will you characterize and explain this new system of unequal rights to the new Palestinian-Israeli citizens and the international community ?
Will Israel’s new Palestinian-Israeli citizens be required or even allowed to serve in the IDF? If so, how will they be integrated into the very army they previously saw as their oppressor? If not, how will you answer their claims that they are still treated as a subjugated people?
Assuming civil unrest and violence between the Jewish-Israelis and Palestinian-Israeli communities of United Israel will continue, will the new Palestinian-Israeli citizens have the right to sue the government for damages when harmed during police activity, the right not to be subject to police and GSS (Shabak) surveillance of their communications, not to be raided, searched, and arrested without a warrant, detained without trial, and denied a hearing and counsel for days following arrest? In cases of severe violence, will military weapons and tactics be used against Palestinian-Israeli citizens? If not – will United Israel’s ability to respond to terrorist and insurgent activity be weakened by the new civil rights granted to Palestinian-Israeli citizens?
Will United Israel seek to close the wide economic gaps between the rich coastal center and the poverty-stricken cities and towns of Judea and Samaria? If so, how much will this cost and how will the State pay for it? Will Israel adopt a policy of affirmative action in jobs and opportunities to correct socio-economic inequalities?
As equal citizens, will all the new Palestinian-Israelis enjoy full access to Bituach Leumi (Social Security), national health coverage, affordable education, roads and transportation, quality telecommunications, and other services? How will the State pay for the rapid expansion of these services and amenities to its underserved citizens and maintain their quality?
As equal citizens, will the new Palestinian-Israelis be allowed to buy property wherever they wish? Will they enjoy freedom to travel through all roads, ports, airports, and border crossings? Will the separation barrier be dismantled?
Will Palestinian-Israelis get their proportional fair share of available open land for new housing, establishment of new towns and neighborhoods, and new industrial and business zones? Will your government seek to spread the Israeli-Palestinian population across the entire country or encourage them to remain concentrated in Judea, Samaria, and parts of the Galilee and Negev?
Will Palestinian-Israeli citizens have the right to obtain Israeli citizenship for their immediate relatives and spouses under “family unification”? … No, no, of course I was not asking about the right of return of the refugees…
What will your foreign policy be towards the Palestinian Republic of Gaza?
Assuming your optimistic demographic projections are correct, approximately 40%-45% of Israelis are now Arabs, a figure you expect–or hope–will remain steady. Will Israel’s large Arab minority be able to express their culture and identity? Will Muslim and Christian holidays be celebrated publicly? Will Arabic be adopted in all signs, official publications, government sponsored media, and will Arabic service be available in all public offices? Will all Palestinian-Israeli students learn Hebrew, and will all Jewish-Israeli students learn Arabic to a level of proficiency? Will public transportation connect Arab the population to the rest of the country? Even on Shabbat?
As a large minority, Palestinian-Israeli representation in the Knesset is expected to grow significantly. Politics, as we all know, requires deal-making and cooperation between rivals. How will important national decisions be reached in a Knesset divided between large Jewish-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli factions. Do you expect the Knesset to be able to pass an annual budget? Will the Knesset be able to pass effective laws? Will it properly oversee the government? If a divided Knesset fails to function, will your government abandon democratic process and seize legislative powers?
What actions will your government take to heal the wounds of history, memory, and conflict between Jewish-Israeli and Palestinian-Israelis? Will you establish a truth and reconciliation commission? If prominent Palestinian-Israelis condemn the evils Palestinian terrorist acts, will you acknowledge the Palestinian-Israeli’s suffering during the so-called Nakba and their many years under Israeli military rule?
I thank you for your time and candid answers, Mister or Madam Prime Minister.