The long post-Zionist march of Ayelet Shaked

In an interview given by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to The Atlantic magazine, the rightwing, nationalist politician exposed her plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in her own unique way. The C territories, heavily inhabited by the Palestinian population, will be annexed to Israel in a move that will grant to 100,000 Palestinian Arabs civil and political rights as Israeli citizens. According to Shaked, these people can be absorbed in Israel without violating the demographic balance within the Jewish state. Those Arabs, she continues, will not get national rights as the right for self-determination is reserved to the Jewish population. Crowned as an alternative to Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Shaked speaks of a Jewish state with small but solid Arab minority and believes that “there is no contradiction between the fact that Israel has full personal equality of citizenship but extends national rights only to the Jewish people.” She concludes, “at the moment, the annexation plan looks like science fiction, but I think that slowly, gradually, people will see what’s going on in the Middle East and realize that it really could happen.”

The Shaked plan, coordinated with her party leader Mr. Naftali Bennet, means that the two-state solution will be put to death. With no Palestinian state, with no national rights to be granted to the Arabs living in the West Bank, Mrs. Shaked and Mr. Bennet wish to bury the Palestinian question, forcing hundreds of thousands of occupied Arabs to accept citizenship in a state they detest. The logic guiding Mrs. Shaked implies that in case these Palestinians won’t agree to become Israeli citizens, their status will resemble the situation where the East Jerusalem Palestinians live: they will not vote to the Israeli Knesset and will therefore be satisfied with getting civil rights like national insurance funds. Thus, the obedient Arabs will agree to renounce their national rights in return to Israeli money. Israel, according to this twisted nationalist logic, will be able to expand its territory through massive annexation and remain a Jewish and democratic state.

The vision put forward by Minister Shaked is problematic in many ways, mainly because the Justice Minister doesn’t consider the possibility that the Arabs will actually agree to her plan. Let us just think that the Arabs would take the challenge and accept the proposal with one “minor” change: instead of granting citizenship only to the population living in the C area, they will ask Shaked to provide civil and political rights to the entire Palestinian population living under Israeli control. Thus, the total number of Palestinians requiring citizenship following the logic carried forward by Shaked will grow to one, two or even three million people. They will not ask for a state of their own; instead, they will demand full rights as citizens in a state defined as a Jewish one.

It is most likely that neither Shaked nor her followers will agree to endow full civil rights to millions of Palestinian Arabs. This situation will make Israel a state of national separation. In two words: Apartheid state. The Palestinian demand to get Israeli identity cards will be met with support even from pro-Zionist leaders across the US and Europe. Israel would have to accept those Arabs who wish to be its citizens; it would have to submit to this mass democratic movement and even pro-Israeli hardliners will have no choice but to press the Israelis to renounce the idea of a Jewish state. Moreover, Israel itself will be divided between hardcore nationalists and those who cherish democratic values. It might end in serious civil strife, leading to internal civil war. The Zionist dream of an independent Jewish state will die in the struggle between nationalist zealots and liberals.

Israel cannot accept the annexation plan of Ministers Shaked and Bennet in case it wishes to fulfill the Zionist ideology put forward by Herzl and Jabotinsky. It is worth mentioning that Jabotinsky stressed the importance of a Jewish majority in Palestine as a precondition to Jewish sovereignty. Shaked and her followers betray the Zionist dream; they reject the essence of Zionism as it was portrayed by Jabotinsky and Ben-Gurion alike. In many senses, the Israeli right started its long march to post-Zionist ideology. If Bennet and Shaked will get the opportunity to build their state of Judea upon the ruins of Israel, this state will constitute nothing but a coffin for the moribund dream on Jewish national independence in Zion.

About the Author
DAVID MERHAV is a journalist and editor; Since 2008, he is working as journalist & Op-Ed columnist in Makor Rishon daily, Hebrew conservative newspaper published in Jerusalem; He also served as the Public Relations director for the Jabotinky Institute in Israel.
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