Mose Apelblat

Peace cannot be imposed on Israel

In his opinion article in Haaretz (‘The World Must Force Peace on Israel’, 18 February), Gideon Levy argues that now is the time for the international community to impose a peace solution on Israel before the already disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorates even more. To his credit it must be said that he was right from the very beginning about the war.

Already a few days after Hamas’ surprise terrorist attack on Israel, he warned that a ground offensive in Gaza might result in a humanitarian disaster and a second ‘Nacka’ with unforeseeable consequences. But the government, which was responsible for the failure, paid no attention to his warning and his worst-case scenario became reality as he predicted.

After four and half months of war Israel is stuck in Gaza without having achieved its two main goals: the dismantling of Hamas and the release of all the hostages. The conflict can still escalate to a full-scale war in the north. The international legitimacy for Israel’s war of defense against Hamas is evaporating as the war drags on with increasing civilian casualties and destruction.

Until now, the Israeli government under a prime minister which is totally dependent on his extremist coalition partners for his political survival, has resisted calls for a discussion on the “day after” and the way forward to a political solution. Levy concludes from this that there is no point any longer in appealing to Israel to resume the peace process.

He is right that the current government has no intention to seize the opportunity and generate the only possible change which can prevent future wars and ensure Israel’s long-term security. On the contrary, for the extremists in the government, the war has become an opportunity to pursue other goals such as annexation of the West Bank and recolonization of Gaza.

But he is wrong about the alternative government which would replace the current government with a big majority if there would be elections now. Such a government would bring Israel back to some form of normality without far-right and messianic extremists. It would be open to resume the peace process towards a two-state solution. And it would regain the trust of the international community.

Levy makes no difference between an indicted prime minister and the opposition leaders. Already in April 2020, he wrote that he preferred Netanyahu before Lapid. Why? Because Lapid had proclaimed abroad that he loves Israel. Levy cannot change his views on Israel.

The international community understands very well that it is impossible to impose a political solution on Israelis and Palestinians.

Levy refers to Josep Borrell, EU’s foreign policy chief. He has indeed stressed the two-state solution as the end-goal but also clarified that the modalities and details of such a solution must be negotiated and agreed by the two sides. This would of course also include demilitarization.

Levy recalls the 1995 Dayton Accords which was imposed by the US and ended the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was perhaps the only possible solution at the time but resulted in a non-functioning and divided country which is lagging behind the other Balkan countries in their path to becoming EU member states.

He continues to be unclear about the future of Israel. In his article he puts Israel before the choice of being democratic or Jewish. He does not care if the Jews in Israel would live in a one-state or binational state where they would become a minority.  At this point, the Palestinian majority could abolish its democratic institutions.

If Levy’s imposed solution is inspired by his perception of an EU model, he is obviously wrong. The EU is made up of sovereign nation-states, some which their own minority problems, that have agreed to pool their resources and transfer some of their decision-making to common institutions. The truth is that Levy is not interested in saving Israel from its corrupt politicians.

About the Author
Mose Apelblat is a journalist and former official at the European Commission with a professional background in public auditing in Sweden and Israel. He writes about current EU and Israeli affairs from a European perspective. Born in Sweden to Holocaust survivors, he co-authored in 2019 a book on the second generation in Sweden and the memory of the Holocaust. He made aliya in 2015 and is engaged in a project to replace Israel's dependence on fossil fuels in the transport sector by an electric road system charging e-vehicles when driving.