painting of apartheid wall Apartheid wall, Bethlehem. Image: Tim Sanders

Israelis have voted for their preferred version of apartheid – we must stand with the Palestians, writes Sybil Cock

The pessimism in advance of last week’s election in Israel was well-founded. As respected Israeli academic Neve Gordon says, it was a choice between apartheid and apartheid-lite.

Netanyahu had made pacts with the far-right and, in a last-minute election promise, he vowed to annex the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank if he won. This, of course, will leave the Bantustans of the West Bank even more disconnected from each other.

The aim of Netanyahu’s grouping is to hollow out and undermine existing state institutions such as the press and the judiciary. The opposition, led by ‘Blue and White’ leader Benny Gantz is equally bloodthirsty as far Palestinians are concerned, but looks for no structural changes to the Israeli state. They all want a single Jewish state with no Palestinians within its borders.

The ‘left’ vote collapsed. Palestinian citizens of Israel were intimidated by the appearance of Likud video cameras in polling stations in Arab areas. Labor support was gutted from 24 to 6 seats, and Meretz, propped up by Palestinian and Druze voters, fell from 5 to 4. As Tony Greenstein says:

The Labour Zionist parties were never socialist or even left-wing in the sense that is understood in the West. Meretz is, at best, a party of civil liberties but it doesn’t challenge the Zionist basis of the Israeli state. It doesn’t like its more overt racist character but it signs up to Israel as a Jewish state[1]

There is, of course, another dimension to this. Trump’s Secretary of State (Foreign minister), Mike Pompeo, agreed in March with his TV interviewer on the Christian Broadcast Network’

could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?

“As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo added that he is “confident that the Lord is at work here” when he sees

the remarkable history of the faith in this place and the work that our administration’s done to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state, remains.[2]

So, surprise, surprise, in terms of elections, Israel and the people it controls continue on the path towards a single theocratic state. There will be one state, something that has been increasingly obvious to most of us for years. The question is only: can Palestinians achieve equal rights?

7 million Jews and 7 million Palestinians live in the region between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean. Israel has never defined its international borders, but those borders do exist for West Bankers, East Jerusalemites, and Gazans. 

jerusalem old city view.jpg

View from a Palestinian balcony in Jerusalem’s Old City. Photo: Ilona Bossanyi

The liberal press here, along with most of the Labour party, have wailed and gnashed their teeth about the threat to their fantasy ‘two-state solution’.

As we wait for full details of Trump’s ‘plan of the century’ for peace in the Middle East, a large group of top European politicians wrote to the Guardian, in defence of their

shared understanding that a viable peace requires the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel on borders based on the pre-1967 lines with mutually agreed, minimal and equal land swaps; with Jerusalem as the capital for both states; with security arrangements that address legitimate concerns and respect the sovereignty of each side and with an agreed, fair solution to the question of Palestine refugees. [3]

Palestinians, and anyone who has seen the ‘facts on the ground’ of the settlements, the wall and the brutal militarisation of Palestinians’ every day life, know that this is moralistic nonsense.

This is an Apartheid state, not a ‘Jewish and democratic’ one. 

A recent week long hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinian prisoners did manage to extract some concessions from Israel.

The Israeli state, modelled on a European democracy, has been giving Netanyahu a hard time with corruption charges, and some challenges in the courts to his authority. However, while it may lead to his downfall, there is no reason to expect that his successor will want to change anything.

Our solidarity with Palestine is even more important.