A letter to Avigdor Lieberman
I wanted to give a quick shout-out to blogger Max Socol who has a really interesting op-ed up at the Jerusalem Post. His take on the rise of Avigdor Lieberman and the Yisrael Beitenu party is quite a lot different than mine, and where I saw only reason for skepticism, Max manages to draw some positive possibilities into the discussion. I’m still extremely skeptical, but if Lieberman did take Max’s advice it would certainly be beneficial. Max frames the piece as an open letter to Lieberman:
You believe in building a Palestinian state to preserve a demographically Jewish Israel. That may not be the primary concern of the international community, but two states for two peoples will satisfy their concerns as effectively as yours.
If you are serious about building such a state, as you say you are, you have the opportunity to make history as the leader who finally brought a conclusion to decades of bloody fighting over the Palestinian issue. With a willing partner in the Obama administration, and Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah, you have the tools to begin the process of building a final-status agreement that will establish a home for Palestinians in the West Bank.
BUT YOU must build a coalition with Kadima. Binyamin Netanyahu was not serious about negotiations with Palestinians in his last tenure as prime minister, and is not serious about them now. His position as leader of the traditional right wing means that he will be required to waste time pandering to pro-settlement parties that will demand the impossible from their government. Netanyahu is far more likely to drag his feet indefinitely, in the vain hope of pleasing all the people all the time, than to take any concrete steps on the road toward building a Palestinian state.
Kadima will have no such burden. Tzipi Livni, following Ehud Olmert, has much more ideological flexibility in pursuing a two-state solution. Her base, not made up of settlers, will not desert her because of perceived weakness on the issue. Livni, entering power at the same time as a more flexible, more involved US administration, has the best chance to make real progress on the issue.
And you can be a part of that historic moment, one that will likely take more than one Knesset term, and one that therefore you yourself will have a chance to see to its conclusion.
Of course, whether Kadima will form a coalition with Lieberman is another question altogether. Right now, I’m betting on a unity government composed of Kadima and Likud. No matter what happens, I just don’t see in any of these politicians an answer to the settlement question, though as Max points out, Lieberman is open to an exchange of land for peace and a two-state solution, which is certainly a positive position. The “loyalty oath” may be a stumbling block to any meaningful diplomatic initiatives, however, and that alone may act as a deterrent to any meaningful coalition forming between Our Home and Kadima.
I remain the consummate skeptic on this one, but I’m crossing my fingers nonetheless.