Palestine and Israel face a dark future

It has taken me a few days to deal with the results of the latest elections to the Israeli Knesset.

To say they were disappointing is a massive understatement. Even though the popular, the Nationalist parties led by Netanyahu only gained a small majority in the popular vote: 2,397,624 who voted for parties that will support Netanyahu and 2,334, 239 who voted for parties opposed to Netanyahu). But the way the proportional representation system works in Israel, it will has gained a majority of 6 to 10 seats in the new Knesset.

For now, Yair Lapid remains the Israeli Prime Minister while Netanyahu tries to do the deals that will allow him to form a government. However, it seems inevitable that before long, Netanyahu will retake the office backed by religious and, to put it bluntly, fascist parties who will take Israel into dark, dangerous and deeply worrying places.

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As Gershon Baskin wrote in his latest column in the Jerusalem Post: “If Netanyahu was prime minister now and Itamar Ben Gvir was minister of the police, there would be continued attacks against Israeli soldiers and armed settlers. In fact, I believe very strongly, when (God forbid) Minister of Police Ben Gvir lets loose his unrestrained policies of hatred against Arabs, we will witness not only the acts of individual Palestinian combatants or small groups of armed resisters, we will witness attacks against Israel on a scale that will remind us of the second intifada.”

The future for both Israel and Palestine, which has its own leadership problems with a weak President Mahmoud Abbas holding onto power but having little idea what to do with it, looks bleak. The political leadership on both sides claim the other side isn’t interested in finding as solution to their conflict, too many young people on both sides seem to have given up on living in peace with those they share a land with.

At such a dark time, we need to be resolute in helping those on both sides who want to take another direction, those who realise that a future of conflict will only lead to more violence, more bloodshed and more deaths on both sides. There are many in both Palestine and Israel who reject violence, who realise that the only future that will allow both nations to thrive and prosper, to live in security and peace, is one where there is dialogue between them, where there is recognition of the fears, history and trauma of both the Jews and Arabs who share the thin sliver of land between the River and the Sea.

This is why now, more than ever, we must reach out the Peace Activists in both Palestine and Israel, to give them moral support, to listen to them and help them grow the Peace camp on both sides, and to help them counter the views of those who are myopically supporting one side or the other that all they are doing is encouraging more violence and killing, because the only way to stop that violence is through dialogue.

* Leon Duveen is Chair of Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East, a new group of Lib Dems working to support those trying to a solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict and to providing information about these peacemakers.

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9 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Nov '22 - 10:38pm

    As usual, a level of common sense and common decency from Leon. It is with real committment and enthusiasm I contribute as a Vice Chair of Liberal Democrats For Peace In The Middle East, helping with this worthwhile endeavour Leon founded, with friends and colleaguies involved. Since its beginning we have been active in doing as described here, offering hope. It is evidently there, in the voices we have already heard, from the speakers we have already heard from. Our meetings online are convenient and our group, of course welcoming. Please join us and add to the spirit and effort alluded to here, so much needed now and moving ahead.

  • Cllr. Laurence Brass 11th Nov '22 - 8:22am

    I welcome this sensible post. I am writing from Israel where I am visiting this week the inspiring peace village known as “Neve Shalom” or “Wahat al Salam” where Jews and Arabs live together in complete harmony. The village primary school is divided equally between Jews and Arabs and the children learn and respect each other’s language and culture and leave the school as Ambassadors for a better future. We never give up hope.

  • Thanks Leon for this; in the midst of other things the Israeli/Palestinian situation is being forgotten. I am reading a book written by a Palestinian Christian of Bethlehem Bible College, who reminds us of the harmful role of Western governments. He explains that Palestinian Christians feel utterly betrayed by Conservative Evangelicals, especially in the USA, who base their approach on a completely wrong (unchristian) theology and should be opposing the actions of the Israeli government and soldiers and all who engage in violence. At the same time he is at pains to avoid an anti-Jewish attitude.
    I also see from a Christian Charity (Embrace Middle East) that although small in number, Christians in Gaza are very resilient and doing exemplary practical work helping individuals cope with the effects of Israeli oppression; they help especially women and try to bring Christians, Muslims and others together.

  • David Garlick 11th Nov '22 - 8:39pm

    To avoid conflict absolute power has to be used to the equal benefit of all. Unless and until there is progress towards this, a dark future is inevitable. Thanks Leon for this.

  • Palestinian hardliners (Hamas etc) will be *very* happy with the Israeli election result. They share with the Netanyahu’s Israeli hardliners an opposition to any peaceful settlement that respects the rights of all in the region, and I wouldn’t put it past both groups of extremists to collude to prevent any such settlement from ever happening.

  • Peter Hirst 13th Nov '22 - 4:11pm

    I note Israel uses PR in its elections. If the franchise could be enlarged to include the West Bank and Gaze it might form a mechanism for providing a unified administration with reserved rights for both groups. If Ireland can manage it why can’t this part of the world?

  • Alex Macfie 13th Nov '22 - 5:27pm

    The trouble with “reserved rights for both groups” is that it tends to freeze out those who cannot or do not wish to identify with either group. We see this already in Northern Ireland. I do not think it desirable for Israel and the occupied territories to be ruled by a sectarian cartel of Palestinian and Israeli hardliners, each bringing their own brand of extremism and reactionary religious fundamentalism, while excluding the moderate and secular.

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