Noam Sheizaf writes: There are growing signs that the occupation/Palestinian issue is undergoing one of its transitional moments, after which new forces will be at play. On the surface, things are as static as they could be: Inside Israeli society, there is a total denial of the occupation – the Levy committee’s report being just one aspect of it. No major political forces are offering any new idea that could end the occupation. In fact, even the old ideas – a Palestinian state, for example – are no longer discussed. I heard President Shimon Peres say at the Presidential Conference that we should wait, and things will happen in the longer run. The guy is 89, what long run is he talking about?
The same goes for the international community and the American administration. There is a widespread understanding that the peace process has ended, but no serious alternative has emerged. Diplomats see their mission today as “not making things worse.” In part, they are playing into Israeli hands, since it’s Israel that has an interest in maintaining the status quo. It has many benefits and none of the costs that a change would bring. This is the reason Netanyahu is willing to give some lip service to the two-state solution and demands direct talks, but not much more.
But the Israeli right’s years in power are bearing fruits, and expansionist forces are trying to change the paradigm under which Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank operates. (Netanyahu himself is moving in both directions.) After more than four decades of military occupation and two decades of control by proxy, mainstream forces within the Israeli bureaucracy and political system are flirting with the idea of full sovereignty in the occupied territory. The center and the left oppose this trend, so a strange paradox emerges: The “soft” left, which was the traditional force of change in Israel, is engaged in a rearguard battle to maintain the current model of occupation, while the mainstream right, and not just the settlers, is becoming a force of change.
I think progressive Israelis should give more thought to this dynamic.
It also seems that several forms of Palestinian opposition to the occupation are reaching their expiration date. The small unarmed protests in the villages that had many internationals and several Israelis participating were focused mainly on the effect of the fence of rural communities, but now the separation barrier is almost completed and international focus is shifting to other places in the region. (It’s hard to use civil rights tactics to highlight the plight of the Palestinians against the occupation when Syrians are slaughtered in the hundreds nearby. The issues are not related, but this is how the international debate works.) It’s also clear that as long as the Palestinian Authority continues to prevent the unarmed protests from spreading to the cities, the demonstrations, important as they may be for local communities, won’t have much of an effect on the fate of the occupation. [Continue reading…]