Sometimes it takes someone blurting out an obvious truth to really make you sit back and take stock of the world around you. It was when I was reading through the Times of Israel’s interview with the Deputy Defence Minister and Likud Member of Knesset, Danny Danon that the reality that had been percolating in my mind really crystallised.
There is no peace process because there is no war.
We still call it a peace process because when this long, drawn out series of talks between Israeli officials and the Palestinian leadership began the first Intifada was still under way. In that sense there were very clear, very tangible gains that both sides could make from a cessation of violence.
Fast forward to where we are now and what we have ended up with is an end to the second Intifada without having to sign any deal with the Palestinians at all. So we have very neatly fallen into a situation where if the Palestinians launch an Intifada then they are the enemy and must be subdued and if they don’t launch an Intifada then no Israeli lawmaker (or man on the street for that matter) has any reason to give them anything.
In fact Israeli lawmakers have every reason not to give the Palestinians anything at all. Politically it’s dangerous to make big changes, much better to keep a low profile, take no aggressive steps and do nothing that could frustrate the base of voters. This is particularly true with the Jewish Home Party growing strong off the the fruits of the Likud’s right flank.
With that in mind there is something so utterly demoralising about hearing the Deputy Defence Minister of your country putting the situation so bluntly, with such pride, as if the battle had been fought and the war won. His exact words were:
“Israel’s ruling party and the governing coalition are staunchly opposed to a two-state solution and would block the creation of a Palestinian state if such a proposal ever came to a vote.”
I knew this already but reading his words in black and white really fired the silver bullet of reality into my hopes, killing them.
Right now all eyes are on Yesh Atid and the reforms they are making with regards to the Haredim and this is truly important work, existential even, but it also served to divert my attention from the fact that there simply isn’t any political will to deal with the elephant in the room.
Last night I slept in the settlement of Tekoa, from my friend’s infinity pool. From the comfort of the cold water I looked to my left at Herod’s grave, then I turned my head to the right and gazed over the hills of the Judean Desert towards the Dead Sea. In front of me the lights of the settlement of Nokedim winked at me from across a wadi. Somewhere in that settlement sat the man for whom the position of Foreign Minister is being kept open until he beats the rap in a corruption case. Beyond Nokedim are the faint lights of Jordan doing their own faint little dance in the distance. A Muezzin calls the faithful to prayer from somewhere off to the South West. It’s around 4 in the morning and I ask my friends where it’s coming from. “Tookwa” one of them says, “Even the name they stole from us” he adds.
I wonder aloud whether their Tookwa is as big as Tekoa, no one seems to know.
No one cares.
It’s cold in the infinity pool, I get out and grab another beer, go join the rest of the revellers at the bachelor party I am here for and proceed to drink myself into a slumber on the very nicely furnished patio.