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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/13/16

Is Israel on the brink of tearing itself asunder?

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    But the problem runs deeper still. When the new campaign proudly cites new figures showing that 58 percent support "two states for two nations," it glosses over what most Israelis think such statehood would entail for the Palestinians.

    A survey in June found 72 percent do not believe the Palestinians live under occupation, while 62 percent told pollsters last year they think Palestinians have no rights to a nation.

      When Israelis talk in favor of a Palestinian state, it is chiefly to thwart a far bigger danger -- a single state shared with the "enemy." The Decision at 50 poll shows 87 percent of Israeli Jews dread a bi-national conclusion to the conflict. A former head of the Shin Bet intelligence service and a leader of Decision at 50, Ami Ayalon, echoed them, warning of an "approaching disaster."

      So what do Israelis think a Palestinian state should look like? Previous surveys have been clear. It would not include Jerusalem or control its borders. It would be territorially carved up to preserve the "settlement blocs," which would be annexed to Israel. And most certainly it would be "demilitarized" -- without an army or air force.

        In other words, Palestinians would lack sovereignty. Such a state exists only in the imagination of the Israeli public. A Palestinian state on these terms would simply be an extension of the Gaza model to the West Bank.

        Nonetheless, the idea of a civil war is gaining ground. Tamir Pardo, the recently departed head of Israel's spy agency Mossad, warned last month that Israel was on the brink of tearing itself apart through "internal divisions."

          He rated this a bigger danger than any of the existential threats posited by Mr Netanyahu, such as Iran's supposed nuclear bomb.

          But the truth is that there is very little ideologically separating most Israeli Jews. All but a tiny minority wish to see the Palestinians continue as a subjugated people. For the great majority, a Palestinian state means nothing more than a makeover of the occupation, penning up the Palestinians in slightly more humane conditions.

            After many years in power, the right is growing in confidence. It sees no price has been paid, either at home or abroad, for endlessly tightening the screws on the Palestinians.

            Israeli moderates have had to confront the painful reality that their country is not quite the enlightened outpost in the Middle East they had imagined. They may raise their voices in protest now but, if the polls are right, most will eventually submit to the right's realization of its vision of a Greater Israel.

              Those who cannot stomach such an outcome will have to stop equivocating and choose a side. They can leave, as some are already doing, or stay and fight -- not for a bogus referendum that solves nothing, but to demand dignity and freedom for the Palestinian people.

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              Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)

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