Israel’s Political Hopefuls Understand What Won’t Work, But Don’t Know What Will

February 4, 2015 | Haviv Rettig Gur
About the author: Haviv Rettig Gur is the senior analyst for the Times of Israel.

At a recent televised debate among candidates for re-election to the Knesset, the participants astutely identified the problems with their interlocutors’ positions. But when it came to the crucial issue of relations with the Palestinians, none was able to present a convincing solution. To Haviv Rettig Gur, who served as the one non-politician on the panel, the lack of ideas stems from “a broader national bewilderment”:

A majority of Israelis want to separate from the Palestinians. A majority—who overlap a great deal with the previous group—also believe an Israeli withdrawal is unlikely to deliver safety. And so, in a sense, everyone is right.

Hilik Bar [of the Zionist Camp party] insisted that Palestinian independence would increase, not decrease, the political window for an Israeli military response to any post-withdrawal attacks. Ayelet Shaked [of Jewish Home] calmly pointed out that the Gaza situation didn’t quite work out that way.

Shaked insisted the country could “manage the conflict,” leading Yaakov Peri [of Yesh Atid] to retort that instead the conflict was “managing” the country, holding an outsized role in setting the national agenda. . . .

At the end of the day, after a long string of failed peace talks, Israelis no longer believe in the policy narratives of the past. They do not believe peace is attainable in the near term, or that annexation might resolve the fundamental questions of the conflict. And neither, it seems, do the candidates in this election.

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