Is Lieberman Palestine’s Greatest Ally?

Lieberman – the face of the progressive extreme right in Israel?

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman epitomizes the extremist, quasi-racist (and occasionally overtly racist) fringe of Israeli politics that envisions complete Israeli control over the entire West Bank and the completion of ‘Greater Israel.’ He has called for: Israeli Arabs to pledge allegiance not to Israel, but to Israel as a Jewish state; forced population transfer at the UN; and a law to be passed allowing Arabs to be barred from living in predominately Jewish towns. He has stated that negotiations with Palestine will not be successful, that settlement construction will never cease and, most recently, that the Oslo Accords should be repealed should the PA look for UN recognition of statehood in September.

Considering Lieberman’s general thought process (most of the opinions above are against international law), it is more than a little surprising that the Foreign Minister was deemed to be Israel’s most popular politician at the end of last year. It is even possible that Lieberman – who lives in an illegal settlement in the West Bank – could win the premiership and push Israel closer to the abyss.

It seems logical that repeated failures in negotiations in addition to continued illegal Israeli settlement construction have effectively pushed the idea of a two state solution past its expiration date. There are, of course, many benefits for a two state solution, but it would completely fail to adequately and justly provide compensation to the Palestinian refugees, inevitably it would compensate Israel for its occupation by conceding more land to Israel and it would white wash all of the sins from 1948. Moreover, at this point in time, the creation of two states is impossible.

Previously, I have supported a one state solution, knowing that justice would be achieved through years of struggling through the inevitable Jim Crow laws that would dominate a one-state/bi-national solution. I have also suggested that dismantling the Palestinian Authority would be preferable than pushing for a Palestinian state along 1967 lines. The logic is simple: the end of the PA would require the re-occupation of the entire West Bank by Israel, leading to more attention to the Apartheid policies that are currently in effect as well as a greater push internationally and, importantly, from within Israel for an end to the institutionalized racism and discrimination through the creation of a more just political solution. In other words, the Palestinian Authority is aiding Israel is presenting the idea that the antiquated two state solution is still possible.

So let us move back to Lieberman. The Foreign Minister’s call to renege on the Oslo Accords is both depressingly hilarious and, in an unorthodox way, very progressive. Lieberman forgets to mention that Israel effectively killed the Oslo Accords years ago; current Prime Minister Netanyahu has bragged about killing the Accords and Israel has been able to pick and choose what agreements it wants to adhere to. Last year, Akiva Eldar called the Accords “a contemptible mechanism for perpetuating the occupation” and called on the PA to declare the agreement to be dead.

Officially signing the death certificate of the Oslo Accords would, in fact, benefit Palestinians. The ridiculous division of the West Bank into areas A, B, and C would end forcing Israel to find a more direct way to administer the occupation and it would allow the Palestinian people to actually live in the 60% of the West Bank that is currently designated as Area C.

More importantly, an Israeli abrogation of the Oslo Accords would facilitate the end of the occupation and the creation of a one state solution. Indeed, the Oslo Accords are the only reason that the occupation is not seen (officially, at least) as pure Apartheid. The Accords allow Israel to continue the occupation while claiming that they are working to a negotiated solution to the conflict. Without the Accords, the Palestinian Authority becomes as superfluous in theory as it is in reality.

Of course, it is unlikely that Israel would kill off its greatest tool of the occupation. Lieberman’s support for such an idea simply highlights how the extreme right is slowly undermining the Zionist view of Israel. Removing the Oslo accords or militarily re-occupying all of the West Bank are threats used by the extreme right to bully the Palestinian Authority and the rest of the Israeli political spectrum. Yet such moves, inspired by a fascist, nationalistic view of the conflict would simply reveal that two states are no longer possible and that a one state solution is the only viable, just option left.

Photo from Mitchell Plitnick

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