Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party, has announced that he intends to annex the Jordan Valley if he is to be elected.
In this new vow, Gantz has made it clear that his party is little more than Likud in disguise — a friendlier face with the same policies . He would more readily cannibalize the right’s voter base than seriously consider sitting with the Joint List and building Arab-Jewish partnership based on equality, justice, and the rule of law.
Gantz claims to be the leader that Israel needs but the only leadership he is showing is in this undignified race to the bottom, where parties are converging around an increasingly narrow set of political ideas. But he is not the only culprit. Even the statement by Labor leader Amir Peretz stipulated that annexation 'should be decided in negotiations', diluting his condemnation into insipidity.
This is not only immoral, but miscalculated. These developments also have dire ramifications for the next election. In the past election, turnout among the Palestinian Arab community increase by twelve points, and polls are predicting a further increase. To rule out the Palestinian Arab community is a huge mistake.
Palestinian Arab citizens are caught between a rock and a hard place. They are encouraged by Jewish Israeli society to temper their nationalist aspirations and to focus on minority rights within, Israel, and they have never been so obliging. Their historic recommendation of Gantz with the exception of Balad) demonstrates this. However, when they have extended their arm, beyond what should be reasonably be expected of an oppressed community, they are met with delegitimisation and incitement. The supposed progressive camp received what they have always demanded, only to turn it away. The Joint List is predicted to increase its vote share once again, but they will not support, let alone endorse, a party which runs counter to the most basic demands of the Palestinian Arab community.
Alongside the attempted disqualification of Joint List MK Heba Yazbak, this is the latest example that the current state of the ‘Center’ and ‘Left’ are incongruous with universal values of any healthy democracy. Annexation is now the consensus across the two largest parties in the Knesset, and is a natural culmination of shrinking democratic space in Israel. What began the decade as a fringe idea ended the decade as mainstream.
The Mossawa Center vehemently condemns the move and calls on the international community and our partners in Israel to move beyond hollow condemnations of this flagrant disregard of international law. The annexation of almost 30% of the West Bank constitutes an irreversible attack on the territorial integrity and contiguity of any future Palestinian state, and therefore jeopardizes the prospects of any two-state solution.
Gantz’s right wing one-upmanship also undermines Arab-Jewish partnerships within Israel, at a time when it is most needed . The Mossawa Center reiterates the pressing need to build a progressive coalition within Israel. It is with regret that Benny Gantz and Blue and White are not only incapable of leading this coalition, but also are not participating nor contributing at all. In light of these recent developments, there is only one remaining slate in Israel which could be described as Left wing in any meaningful way: the Joint List.