On January 22, Israelis will be faced with an important choice. They will have the chance to determine the course that their country will take over the next few years. Many Israelis will find themselves enticed by the rhetoric of the right and their vision of control from the river to the sea. However, Israelis should ask themselves one question before going to vote: What kind of Israel do I want my children to inherit?
It is doubtful that very many Israelis would respond that they would like their children to inherit an Israel that is internationally isolated, an Israel that is under sanctions, and an Israel that is controlling a people whose fate should not be determined by Israel. However, these are very real possibilities under a right wing, Likud-led government, and even more likely in a government with a large Jewish Home party.
Moderate Likud voters are quick to point to Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan speech as proof of his and the Likud’s willingness to create a Palestinian state. Netanyahu has appeased potential centrist and center-right voters who call for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel with empty guarantees that he is truly pursuing a two-state solution. However, by making Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, which he knows will almost certainly not happen anytime soon, a prerequisite for a Palestinian state, Netanyahu is merely cleverly paying lip service to the two-state solution and attracting centrist and center-right voters. Even Likud MKs publicly state that the Likud doesn’t support the creation of a Palestinian state.
So, what does Israel’s future look like under a right wing, Likud-led government?
- Netanyahu’s already cold relationship with President Obama and the U.S. will likely only worsen over Bibi’s refusal to be a serious partner for peace. Additionally, it should not come as a surprise if European nations begin imposing economic sanctions on Israel. And their frustration is certainly warranted. Israel has allowed what was supposed to be a temporary occupation to last for over 40 years.
- The Israeli government will continue to fund settlements with money that could be much better spent on improving Israel’s lacking education system. Even worse, the continued construction of settlements in the West Bank only serves to make an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank more difficult.
- Palestinians will continue to lose faith in the truthfulness of Israel’s claim that it seeks peace. If Israel does not legitimately pursue the two-state solution, Palestinians will elect less moderate leaders than their current leadership if given the chance.
The right does not offer a tenable solution to the conflict. If left to its own devices, the right will create an unmanageable situation that will force Israel to choose between being a Jewish state and being a democracy. This is an inconvenient truth anybody who cares about the future of their children, the future of their state, and the future of their people should not allow to actualize. As David Ben-Gurion said,
When we were faced with the choice between the entire land of Israel without a Jewish State, or a Jewish State without the entire land of Israel – we chose a Jewish State without the entire land of Israel.
The right’s dream of full control from the river to the sea is certainly attractive. It is hard not to want vote for people who promise the magnificence of Greater Israel, who promise the religious meaning of Biblical Israel, and who promise the historical significance of full Israeli sovereignty over the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. However, these accomplishments will be short lived, and pose an existential threat to the State of Israel. Are voters for the right prepared to put on the line their children growing up and living in the one and only Jewish state only to achieve their unrealistic goal of eternal Israeli control of the West Bank?