We Need An Election On Peace

I’m sorry to say, Prime Minister, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t proceed with genuine peace talks with the Palestinians and still lead a party holding your coalition together which demands more settlements be built. You have to take to the airways and press with your message, to bring Meretz and Labor into the coalition and to ensure that your negotiating team has the faith of the entire cabinet.

You took a very brave step by deciding to release the prisoners. But no decision taken by an Israeli Premier has ever been easy. Those who have sat in your office before you took decisions which could have ended with the wholesale slaughter of Jews but for the grace of the IDF ended in the strong state which you have the privilege of leading. Today we face another difficult decision; to remove ourselves from a seemingly inextricable conflict and ensure our children’s future. You, Prime Minister, must prove that you are worthy to hold this office.

The Times of Israel reported on a secret deal worked out between yourself and your coalition partner Naftali Bennett. This deal would see 1,000 units approved in the near future with an additional 4,5000 units in the next few months. This deal was kept secret in order to avoid sabotaging the peace talks which started just this week. The peace talks are not even 48 hours old and already they have been put in jeopardy by your decision with these new settlements.

You cannot allow these coalition partners to keep you shackled to the delusions of a Greater Israel. You cannot allow your firm commitment to peace and a 2 State Solution, the only solution to this conflict, to be jeopardized by this jack booted Jabotinsky wannabe. You have to take the final step, the one that you know has to be taken. You have to take this country to another election.

Yes, the people voted only a few months ago and yes your party received a clear majority. Yes, the cost of yet another election, in such a short term and when you are trying to reign in an overblown budget, sounds insane but it is also the most practical option. Your negotiating team in Washington is sitting down next to the US Secretary of State and looking forward to a 9 month period of negotiations. If your coalition couldn’t go 48 hours without doing something that could potentially spark another intifada then how do you think these 9 months will progress? You cannot sit in your office in Jerusalem, wait for their inevitable failure and then go right back to building more settlements. You owe it to us to give this country a real future.

But if you wanted to there’s a way of avoiding another election, you just need a new coalition. In the current Knesset your party holds 31 seats, your nearest rival is Yesh Atid with 19. If we create a strong, left-wing coalition with Labor, Meretz, Kadima, Balad, United Arab List and others there will be more than enough mandates to pass any legislation on peace agreements.

In 2005 your predecessor Arik Sharon completely realigned the Israeli political landscape. By forming Kadima he helped ensure that the Gaza disengagement, a painful necessity, was approved. Your political ingenuity is well known, from separating Ehud Barak from his Labor Party to forming a unity government with Shaul Mofaz in a dramatic late-night agreement, but it must now be put to the test.

If you do decide to go to an election you may not win. This is something that you’ll have to face. If the people of Israel decide that a more moderate face (or alternatively a more extreme one) must be at the negotiating table then so be it. You may lose power. You may not. These are the uncertainties and the risks that come with living in a democracy. If you win then you will lead a government which supports peace with her neighbors, a government who recognises the need for peace with security and a government which will help truly invest in an Israeli future. However, if you don’t win, then you will be the Prime Minister who made the ultimate political sacrifice and that will be you legacy. You’ll be the Prime Minister who helped ensure the continued survival of the State of Israel. Or not. But that’s politics.

About the Author
Raffe Gold spent two years living in Israel. He is now taking a short sabbatical from Aliyah to soak up the Australian sun.
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