None of the four leading parties (Likud, Kadima, Yisrael Beiteinu and Labor) opposed the Gaza offensive, and Likud would have continued it.
I haven’t heard any of the four give any details on how they might accept some Palestinian or Syrian demands concerning the Golan Heights, the West Bank settlements or Jerusalem in return for a lasting peace deal. I’ve seen none of them making the case for compromise. Nor should they, many of you would I know reply. Israel is under threat, has no obligation to deal with ‘terrorists’ and antagonistic neighbours goes the argument.
Looking at the polls we can all agree that this is how most Israelis want their politicians to lead them in this crisis.
But it is striking that in a country that is clearly tired of the conflict with Palestinians, and which seems strangely unmoved by this election, that there’s little political capital to be made by arguing that to literally and figuratively give ground will bring benefits.
Does that surprise you? Or do you admire the insistence that some issues are non-negotiable, even if that may delay a peace settlement?
(Shira was a guest yesterday responded to a question about the West Bank settlements, by saying the land was given to Jews by God. That for her was not something to discuss with Palestinians or anyone else. Our Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen found the same on a visit to a settlement.)
Or might compromise only create more problems anyway? Is it false logic to suggest that by giving some ground, Israeli life will be more peaceful and Israel’s position in the region will be stronger and more stable?
I always remember hearing FW de Klerk say that a crucial moment in his negotiations with the ANC was when he realised to compromise and find agreement would be an achievement for the people he represented and not a defeat. The end of conflict was worth more than the things that had been given up.
Just such a case had to be made by the Republican and Unionist leaders in Northern Ireland who signed up to the Good Friday agreement. You can find another parallel in the deal cut by Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga in Kenya last year. That said some of you are furious that PM Odinga didn’t get the outright victory many observers thought he’d won. The compromise some of you told us wasn’t worth it.
Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu may well be Israel’s next PM and he’s been in particularly uncompromising mood in the final week of the campaign.
He wants to topple Hamas in Gaza, he won’t negotiate on Jerusalem, and a couple of days ago in the Golan Heights (which is part of Syria according to the UN) he said, ‘Years from now, my son will bring his children here and tell them how his father planted this tree, that is so rooted in the ground, just like we are rooted in the Golan.’ He went that is you ‘stick a plough in the earth of the Golan Heights, do you find Palestinian or Syrian remains? No. You find the ancient remains of synagogues and Jewish culture.’
Mr. Netanyahu has talked of negotiation on the key land issues here as weakening Israel. Do you accept his argument? Or is it time to Israelis to see the benefits of compromise?