Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Stirring In Israel

Was Bibi Netanyahu's and AIPAC's failure to stop "the Iran deal", when even trusted congressional friends like Debbie Wasserman Schutz bailed on Israel, a watershed moment?

In Israel it's not changed the conversation much at all. Opinion columns still say things like "The Iran deal is saturated with the poisonous stench of the impending death of the West" and Israel remains a self contained world of dreams and nightmares -- of Greater Israel and a place free of antisemitism, of never ending holocausts.

But prominent and upcoming political star Yair Lapid, leader of the Yest Atid Party, which he created during the 2013 election cycle to represent centrist, secular Middle Class Jews and which immediately became the second most powerful party in the Knesset, is now admitting publicly that Israel has been the obstacle to peace with the Palestinians and must begin negotiating for peace in good faith  -- on the basis of the Saudi initiated, 2002 Arab League proposal, no less, which is far fairer to the Palestinians than anything the US or Israel have ever been willing to consider.

It's significant that someone of Lapid's stature utters for the first time publicly what the rest of the world (outside of Israel and the Washington Beltway) more or less agrees to now, that Israel has not seriously considered peace and has used the "peace process" as cover to build more settlements and steal more Palestinian land. Although Israelis in general acknowledge that the worldwide political landscape vis a vis Israel has changed and is still changing, that they have lost support worldwide, significantly in Europe, and worry that the BDS Movement may have legs, most haven't accepted the significance yet of "the Iran deal." Its general acceptance in US policy making circles means rapprochement with Iran will eventually occur, that there's been a shift in US strategic goals, but in Israel they seem to see Israel's future as doubling down on the status quo and going it alone, if need be, even without unconditional US support.

Lapid, who says Israel has become a wing of the Republican Party, apparently has a grasp on what that means for Israel's future; 2016 could be the Republican Party's last stand before demographics overwhelm it, and he doesn't even think the election in 2016 of a more Israel friendly president than Barak Obama has been will change the equation for Israel.

Lapid has been one of Benjamin Netanyahu's most outspoken mainstream critics. Until recently he's focused on economic issues and echoed the standard line about Israel's policies vis a vis Palestine, but has taken a hard turn to the Left and is expanding his criticism of Netanyahu's foreign policy to include some of Israels most cherished, longstanding policy assumptions, as outlined in an article today's Jerusalem Post.



 










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