Bibi’s Choices

Categories: Israel

If Bibi really wants to correct some of the damage caused by his demagogic campaign statements, he should do the following, even while negotiating his new coalition.  None of these moves would contradict whatever policies he really believes, but these four small steps, if done in good faith, can begin a process of healing relations with the U.S., can remove the threat of chaos on the West Bank if the PA collapses, can be the beginning of a rehabilitation process in Gaza, and can help him back-track from the ugly racist campaign incitement against Israeli Arabs by himself and his coalition parties on the right.

* Promote Ron Dermer to a senior advisory position in Jerusalem and appoint a new ambassador to the US, who can try to start to rebuild relationships in Washington.

* Release the $500 million tax monies owed the PA which he held back during the campaign to punish Abbas; military and intelligence leaders in Israel have said this was a mistake that threatens the existence and stability of the PA, which has cooperated with Israeli security for a number of years.

*Further ease restrictions on exports of Gaza products to Israel, increase the number of Gazan residents permitted to pray in Jerusalem, allow carefully monitored imports to Gaza, and expedite transit visas to Gazan students who want to study abroad.

*Open a new dialogue with Israeli Arabs by announcing a massive program to improve the infrastructure (water, electricity, sewage, etc.) in Arab and Bedouin communities throughout Israel.

On the other hand, if Dermer stays in Washington, if the PA collapses financially, if he appoints Liberman or Bennett as foreign minister or defense minister, if he does nothing to repair the damage done to Jewish-Arab relations, he risks an even more dramatic reaction from the American administration, the international community and the American Jewish community.

The winner of the elections can no longer talk his way out of Israel’s increasing isolation.  He can take some minor steps towards healing or he can let the wounds fester.  The choice should be obvious…

 

About Joel Magid

Joel Magid, former world secretary of Habonim-Dror, lived for 25 years as a member of Kibbutz Be’eri, close to the Gaza border where one of the tunnels was discovered. His daughter and her family live on Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, just north of Gaza, and had to abandon their home during part of the hostilities.
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