Friday, January 21, 2011

The Skeptical Left

Einat Wilf, one of the four Knesset Members who left Labor with Ehud Barak, said that their new Independence Party is to the left of Likud and to the right of Kadima. It's a party for the people on the skeptical left who would like to see peace but aren't so sure it is possible, and do not blame Israel as the sole party responsible for the lack of of progress in peace negotiations.

First of all, it's interesting that Independence is to the right of Kadima. Is the party of Ariel Sharon and Tzippi Livni a leftist party? And a "blame Israel first party" (BIFP)? Of course it isn't. Is what remains of Labor a BIFP? Not in the slightest.

Second of all, as a member of the skeptical left, it would seem I should be a supporter of Barak. I think the Palestinians have their share of responsibility for the failure of negotiations. I am not at all convinced they've completely given up the idea of fighting for a one-state solution even after the Palestinian State is established. However, I'm not blind to our responsibilities, and I don't think we should be providing excuses for the Palestinians. Settlement construction and the demolition of Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem and the West Bank should not be taking place - most of all, because they're wrong, but also because they are excellent excuses for the Palestinians to refuse to talk to us.

The government needs to do something that would test the Palestinians' will to negotiate. Freeze settlements, give them more control over greater areas. If after big gestures like these they'll still be unwilling to negotiate, the egg will be on Mahmoud Abbas's face, not Netanyahu's.

Barak, Wilf and the other three Independence munchkins aren't pushing the government towards the bare minimum required to shift responsibility to the Palestinians. In fact, they're allowing it to go ever more rightward, toward Lieberman's abyss of racism and paranoia.

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