Statement on the Israeli National Elections

israeli-elections

Partners for Progressive Israel stands for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as for the realization of human and civil rights, equality and social justice, and environmental sustainability for all of Israel’s inhabitants. These values are consonant with those of the platform of the Meretz party running in the elections of March 17th.

Should the ‘Zionist Camp’ list, headed by Knesset Members Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, obtain the largest percentage of votes in this election and is therefore asked to form the new government, Meretz is pledged to be part of a coalition and use its best efforts to achieve peace, economic justice, and equality within Israel—ideals that we at PPI espouse.

Some voices have called on Israelis who support these positions to nevertheless support the “Zionist Camp” in order to assure that it has the first opportunity to form the new government. We believe that would be a major mistake, and would end up damaging prospects for the values we share. While we accept the necessity and urgency of replacing Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government with a moderate coalition that not only accepts a Palestinian state but will succeed in negotiating one, the ‘Zionist Camp’s statements show a troubling ambivalence in this area. This can be overcome by a strong presence by Meretz in the government. Without such a presence, we are concerned that coalition bickering and different perspectives will prevent a moderate government from staking out a forthright negotiating position that will both meet legitimate Palestinian demands and receive support from a majority of the Israeli population.

We see this election as historic, and even existential. Netanyahu’s two governments since 2009 have been the most extreme and regressive in Israel’s history. Despite his nominal acceptance of the two-state solution – under strong pressure from President Obama – his actions have shown clearly that he has no interest in negotiating a fair deal with the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas. He chose to form a coalition with the most extreme elements in Israel, led by anti-peace and anti-democratic figures such as Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman. He has prioritized building settlements over Israel’s real needs, and is making Israel a pariah state in the world community. He has endangered Israel’s relations with its only real ally, the United States, and has publicly denigrated President Obama and put Israel on the side of the most extreme rightwing elements in this country, utterly contrary to normal international practice. The values espoused by Partners for Progressive Israel lead us to the conclusion that Netanyahu must go, but he must be replaced by a government committed to fundamentally changing Israel’s direction.

Israel’s campaign finance laws are very strict, and non-citizens may not contribute to candidates or parties in the general election. Nor can Partners for Progressive Israel– as a non-for-profit U.S. based organization–endorse candidates running in an Israeli election. However, we urge you to support Partners for Progressive Israel as a way of disseminating our message to Americans in general and the American Jewish community in general. Further, we hope that our words will reach Israelis and add food for their thoughts as they make choices that will likely determine the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.