Recent opinion polls predict that Habayit Hayehudi, the ultra-anti-Palestinian Zionist party headed by Naftali Bennett, a son of American settlers, could take 14-17 seats in Israel’s election next week, making it the second or third largest party, and likely a member of the governing coalition.
Habayit Hayehudi – whose name means “the Jewish home” – was formed from a merger of the National Religious Party, Moledet and Tekuma, whose platforms supported the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians outright.
The rise of Bennett, who is seen pulling support from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and other Zionist parties also signals the increasing comfort Israelis have with frank calls for an apartheid regime to preserve Jewish supremacy over the Palestinian majority in historic Palestine.
Bennett set out his plans in the short, subtitled YouTube video above, and in a document called “The Israel Stability Initiative: A Practical Program for Managing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (PDF).
Annexation and segregation
Bennett is a successful businessman, and so his marketing is slick, but that cannot conceal the raw racism behind his plan. Here are the main points:
Israel will annex what the Oslo Accords designated as “Area C” of the occupied West Bank, that is more than 60 percent of the territory, while millions of Palestinians will be allowed to have autonomy in Areas A and B – ghettoes comprised over the major cities and their nearby villages. In practice this is not very different from the current situation, except the pretense that a Palestinian state exists or will be created would be dropped forever.
Israel will grant residency or citizenship to the Palestinians living in Area C. Bennett claims that they are 50,000, but Haaretz says there are at least 100,000 more. Bennett says that granting citizenship to these Palestinians will not threaten the Jewish majority, but will somehow protect Israel from the accusation of “apartheid.”
No Palestinians whatsoever will be allowed to enter the West Bank, what Bennett calls “Judea and Samaria,” from outside. In contrast to various “two-state solution” plans, Palestinian refugees would not even be allowed back to the West Bank. “Descendants of the refugees should be absorbed into the countries where they currently reside,” the plan says, “and will not be allowed to move west of the Jordan River.”
Israeli occupation forces – the so-called “IDF” – will maintain “a strong presence in, and complete security control over, Judea & Samaria.”
Gaza will be completely cut off from the rest of Palestine and Palestinians will not be allowed to move between it and the West Bank – again much the situation that exists now – and the “burden” of Gaza will be “passed to Egypt” permanently.
The world will have to live with it
Bennett shrugs that the world will not accept Israel’s formal annexation of the West Bank:
The world will not recognize our claim to sovereignty, as it does not recognize our sovereignty over the Western Wall, the Ramot and Gilo neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Yet eventually the World will adjust to the de facto reality.
Given the indulgence and complicity Israel receives currently from the United States, the European Union and other sponsors, Bennett may be forgiven for this optimistic assessment.
Like Netanyahyu, Bennett believes that “investment” and economic peace will pacify the indigenous Palestinian majority so that they will accept perpetual subjugation to their settler overlords. Bennett calls his plan “fresh ideas,” but what’s fresh about apartheid enforced by an even more brutal occupation?
No forces within Zionism can stop this. Time for more BDS
Writing on Open Zion, Shaul Magid believes that if Bennett is as successful as predicted it will place the United States and American Jews before a choice:
No more evasive language. The Jewish/Israel lobby will have to throw away its handbook. Its slogans will become obsolete. Bennett’s Israel does not want peace. It is not waiting for the other side to denounce violence. Two states? That was something from the last century. One state? Yes, but not one many American Jews will feel proud of. And not one the U.S. government will easily support.
Magid also thinks Bennett is the last chance to shake the Israeli “left” out of its stupor.
But this is vain. Many people thought the rise of Ariel Sharon more than a decade ago would place the United States and the Zionist organizations who claim to speak for American Jews before a similar choice. Well it did, and they chose Sharon, who is now looked on with fondness and “yearning” by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, a very prominent allegedly “liberal” Zionist.
Magid should not underestimate the ability of committed Zionists to justify just about anything when it comes to oppressing Palestinians.
The Bennett phenomenon is simply more evidence that there are no internal forces within Zionism that can stop this descent to hell. Bennett’s rise is merely a reminder that efforts to isolate this pariah regime through boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) and other forms of pressure and struggle are more urgent than ever.