By Gideon Levy | Feb. 1, 2015 | 3:15 AM | 6
Only one scenario is worse than the reelection on March 17 of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister, and that’s the election of Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog (and his political partner Tzipi Livni). Another term for Netanyahu would be a disaster, but a victory for Zionist Camp could be a worse disaster.
Yes, it’s true there’s no comparison between Herzog and Netanyahu — or between their parties. Herzog is a moderate, modest, fair person who’s much more liked than Netanyahu; the same can be said for Livni.
And Zionist Camp’s Knesset slate is of much higher quality than Likud’s. Not only does Zionist Camp not have thugs like Likud, it doesn’t have people with nationalist and racist views inciting and agitating. The CVs of most Zionist Camp candidates are much more impressive.
Now let’s assume Zionist Camp wins. Jubilation; Netanyahu will be ousted and a new day will dawn in Israel with a Herzog-Livni government. Actually, the first and most dramatic change will come from abroad — a global sigh of relief.
Not a statesman around the world will be sorry to see Netanyahu go, other than maybe Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and Khaled Meshal of Hamas. All will be pleased with the victory of the “moderates.” The world will applaud, Herzog will be invited to Washington and Livni to London — and vice versa.
And soon, as promised, the “diplomatic process,” not to say the “peace process,” will begin. Herzog will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Livni with Palestinian leader Ahmed Qurei in a series of moving photo-ops. The cheering around the world will grow louder.
This change will be happening just as it appears the world has had its fill of Israeli policy, of Israel thumbing its nose at international law, the United States and the across-the-board opposition around the world to a continuation of the occupation.
And just when it appears that sanctions against Israel — the only nonviolent way to push the country to leave the territories — are about to be introduced — then of all times Israel will be applauded. There will be no prospect of action at The Hague or at the UN Security Council, no pressure and no punishment. Quiet, they’re talking — those sacred negotiations are in progress.
Those negotiations will, of course, go on endlessly unless this time Abbas refuses to lend a hand to the farce. Herzog has already announced that he will devote five (!) years to negotiations that could be wrapped up in five weeks. In other words, Herzog has no intention of reaching an agreement. Over those five years, the world won’t put on pressure; the two sides are talking.
The occupation will become even more entrenched. Herzog has said his government will continue to build in the “settlement blocs.” And the last chance for a two-state solution — if it still exists — will be squandered. Herzog and Livni will delude the world and perhaps the Palestinians too. Those two will never achieve a just agreement.
This scenario need not surprise anyone. Herzog is at the helm of Israel’s party of occupation. The Labor Party is the founding mother of the settlement enterprise; it never considered stopping it.
Its historical responsibility for the occupation is greater than Likud’s. The Labor troika of Golda Meir, Yisrael Galili and Moshe Dayan founded it, Shimon Peres continued it, and Herzog will go down the same path. The occupation is Labor’s cursed hereditary disease, deeply embedded in its genes. Labor might occupy softly while Likud and the religious-nationalist right use violence. So what’s worse?
To some extent, Zionist Camp would halt the anti-democratic legislation, the incitement against the Arabs and maybe also the disgraceful attitude toward African asylum seekers, all of which are matters of the highest importance. But on the most fateful issue, Zionist Camp would do more harm than good. This Israeli peace party would intoxicate the world, which in its despair would again be enticed. If Netanyahu is elected for another term, that won’t happen.
Gideon Levy tweets at @levy_haaretz.com