Peace by the numbers

Israel is unique in a lot of ways. One involves the next election which will take place on March 17, 2015. The new 3.25% threshold will act as a barrier to some of the smaller or new parties and as an incentive to merge for some others to cobble together enough votes to realistically have a chance to gain seats in the 20th Knesset. But if you look at the snap polls by Channel 2 & 10 as well as the Teleseker/Walla poll yesterday they all project the same result; a marked movement by voters to the right providing a Netanyahu led coalition well over 70 seats in the 120 seat Knesset without either Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah Party or Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party. This result would represent a stinging defeat for the opposition Labor Party and for any tangible prospect for negotiating or achieving a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

In the aftermath of the summer war with Hamas and the continuing low level attacks in and around Jerusalem public sentiment equates a conservative government led by Likud; Benjamin Netanyahu, Jewish Home; Naftali Bennett, Israel Beitenu: Avigdor Lieberman, United Torah Judaism; Yaakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni and Shas; Aryeh Deri with security and considers that as a fundamental necessity for the future of Israel and the relative safety of each individual and their family.

Moshe Kahlon, a well respected ex-Likud member of the Knesset is projected to be next year’s political darling in the electoral circus and is projected to lead a new, (as yet unnamed), party. The math works out to roughly 66 seats for a Likud led 20th Knesset with Kahlon adding 10 to 12 seats making it a solidly hard right government.

Polls don’t always equate with votes as Gershom Gorenberg recently said in Haaretz especially early polls. But to change what appears to be the inevitable outcome will require multiple leaders and their parties to recognize reality now and do something highly unusual, (maybe even more so in Israel on the left end of the political spectrum). They must come together and boil down one singular political message to be carried by every member of every party and reinforced by their constituents, by advocates, NGO’s, academics, business leaders and countless others. They must agree to market the message together that Peace = Security and they must utilize well known leaders from the military to answer the critical question of how? To do that they have almost no time to agree to join together, to agree to promote this singular message and to agree on a broad group of highly respected military men and women to sell it incessantly as the latest fashion.

It is a very long shot indeed that if the leadership on Israel’s left does everything right that it will be able to shift the mood of the public enough by March to change the outcome of this election. But if they try and work together in earnest the numbers will not be as dreadful and far more importantly they may reintroduce peace as a viable goal for Israel in a time of incredibly rough seas that I’m afraid will only get worse locally, regionally and internationally. Peace must become viable once again and be seen as a vehicle to advance stability between Israelis and Palestinians, between Israel and its Arab neighbors, between Israel and Europe and between Israel and its key international partner, the United States. It is not necessary to achieve peace on someone else’s timeline, be in Mahmoud Abbas or Barack Obama. I believe Israel’s future will only be secured through the active pursuit of peace with the Palestinians until all the final status issues are resolved and a peace process is in place on the ground to create and secure the borders of two independent states. This is a mission that transcends party affiliation and any and all infighting by the left requiring a commitment to a process that must begin immediately and will only end with two peoples working to finally settle a conflict that has cost many lives and will cost many more without a solemn promise to sit and stay at the table until peace is achieved on paper and enacted on the ground by two governments and the people of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

About the Author
Larry Snider is President of the Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace, an NGO based in Philadelphia that brings the faiths together to learn about and from each other and to build a new constituency for Middle East Peace.
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