January 21, 2013


Israel's moderate voices won't be heard at this general election (Peter Oborne, 21 Jan 2013, The Telegraph)

In the Great Synagogue in central Jerusalem a young, articulate politician is making the case for an Israeli peace deal with the Palestinians. Hisses and boos erupt from the floor. The young woman carries on regardless. 
But it is all too clear that Laura Wharton, a Harvard graduate and mother of two who represents Meretz (one of Israel's smaller political parties) does not reflect the mood of the audience of more than 500 Israeli voters.

An hour earlier, the same audience had clapped encouragingly as a rival politician made a speech in which he called for the Palestinians to be thrown out of the West Bank in what he called a "religious war".
Arieh Eldad, a plastic surgeon and retired Israeli army brigadier who specialises in treating burns, declared that "the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel and nobody else", adding that "this is a religious war. We are here because God promised the land of Israel to the Jewish people."

Caustically attacking Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for once speaking in favour of a two-state solution, Eldad insisted: "We must end the occupation. Of course I'm referring to the Muslim occupation of the land of Israel, starting in the seventh century." The crowd clapped as he added: "The Palestinians already have a state - in Jordan."

It is shocking to hear talk of this kind, with its ugly endorsement of ethnic cleansing, in any country. And it is especially shocking to hear it in Israel's Great Synagogue, and from a respected member of the national assembly, the Knesset.

To whom?

Rising Chorus Backs Israeli Annexation of West Bank : Extreme Option Is Openly Floated in Ruling Party Ranks (Nathan Jeffay, January 21, 2013, Forward)

Despite their reputation as two of Netanyahu's favorites in the Likud party, Yuli Edelstein, a Cabinet minister, and Ze'ev Elkin, chairman of the Likud's Knesset coalition, have called for gradually annexing the West Bank. And while they have left the details vague, they apparently foresee some Palestinians who live there becoming Israeli citizens.

Though Netanyahu has supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 2009, the ideas of his two close associates have significant, if still minority, support within the Likud's Knesset ranks. The annexation move also has the full and vigorous support of the Jewish Home party, the Orthodox Zionist party that is expected to emerge from the January 22 elections as the second-largest party on the right and at least the third largest in the Knesset.

When the right-wing activist group Women in Green organized a special pre-election "sovereignty" conference, Edelstein, who is minister of Information and Diaspora, and Elkin addressed the 800-strong audience from the podium. The Jerusalem event was Women in Green's third "sovereignty" conference -- but the first that has attracted ruling Likud party members of this stature.

Polling commissioned by the group and conducted ahead of the conference by The New Wave Research, one of Israel's largest polling companies, concluded that 73% of Israelis who consider themselves right-wing support annexation. Only 9% opposed the idea.

Posted by at January 21, 2013 6:40 PM

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