Israel’s new government - which, at least in its initial composition, is one of the most hardline in Israel’s history - will be sworn in within days.
This government brings together Israel's ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties along with a new centrist party. Past positions of this government's members suggest future policies that are the antithesis of what we stand for. This government seems bound to act to further hinder the viability of a two-state solution, to further exacerbate Israel's isolation internationally, to intensify West Bank settlement construction, promote undemocratic legislation and to act to stifle dissent. The Palestinian question is not even mentioned in the government’s guidelines! The cabinet’s super-important Justice portfolio has been given to The Jewish Home’s Ayelet Shaked, who for years has been pushing legislation to dry up the funding sources of Israel’s pro-democracy, pro-peace nonprofit organizations such as Peace Now.
We at APN, along with our Israeli sister organization Peace Now, are determined to scrutinize the government's policies on peace and democracy. We will not hesitate to call it on policies that we know many of its members espouse, and that we believe are disastrous for Israel's future. We will continue to mobilize our supporters and our government to keep the path open for a two-state solution.
The makeup of this government was negotiated as I led APN’s annual Israel study tour. We just returned, after a series of meetings in Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Hebron, Ramallah, Rawabi, and Jelazoun, a West Bank refugee camp.
More than many of the past study tours that I led to Israel and Palestine, this one was a humbling experience. An Israeli-Palestinian two-state peace agreement seems distant, and both publics are skeptical about its attainability.
But had you been there with us when we met with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, with Peace Now activists in Tel Aviv and with Jewish and Arab activists in Haifa, you would have returned home with a great sense of hope. One of the most hopeful and inspirational moments was when Ayman Odeh, the young leader of Israel’s new joint Arab Knesset list, recited to us, in Hebrew, a poem by Shaul Tchernichovsky, one of Israel’s national poets, which ends with the lines:
“…And in the future I still believe
Though it be distant, come it will
When nations shall each other bless,
And peace at last the earth shall fill.”
When I founded APN, almost 35 years ago, I committed to continue supporting Israel’s Peace Now movement and to enhancing efforts in the US to advance peace between Israel and her neighbors. I’ve seen breakthroughs, breakdowns and muddlethroughs, but I am as committed today as I ever was. And the new government that will soon be sworn in in Israel gives me many reasons to redouble my efforts. You should too.
Please make a tax-deductible donation to help APN and Peace Now stand up to this government and policies, to help us be the antithesis to what it stands for.
P.S. Please join our briefing call with my longtime friend and colleague Prof. Galia Golan on Thursday at 2:00 to discuss Israel’s new government.