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The settlement freeze will not continue in order to jump start the faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. PM Netanyahu risks a coalition break up if he acquiesces to US and international pressure. FM Avigdor Lieberman's address from the UN General Assembly podium was an opportunity for him to present his Israel Beitenu Party agenda which has racist and discriminatory undertones.
There are trends in the Israeli Government which ought to be a concern to those who value freedom and democracy. FM Lieberman never represented official government policy (or maybe he did?). He was not fired for this speech. He was advocating transfer of Arab populations in Israel in a soft-serve style, but the message was obvious. It is business as usual in the Foreign Ministry with Avigdor Lieberman remaining at the helm.
A national paranoia is setting in as the Israeli Government is seeking ways to justify Israel's existence as if the whole world is seen as seeking the deligitimization of Israel. Israel's identity as a Jewish and democratic state is written in the Declaration of Independence which is recognized by the High Court of Justice. A new bill formulated by the Minister of Justice, Yaakov Neeman, will be passed for non-Jews who wish to become naturalized Israeli citizens - an oath of allegiance stating loyalty to Israel as "a Jewish and democratic state”. This awkward and unnecessary pledge of allegiance will create problems for Israel's non-Jewish naturalized citizens. It has discriminatory undertones. It also gives rise to the notion that Israeli Arabs will forever remain second class citizens in a Jewish and democratic state. There are countries who demand a pledge of allegiance from citizens who are naturalized and this is legitimate. Can one imagine what would happen if the US demanded its naturalized citizens who are not Christians to plead allegiance to the US as a Christian and democratic country? It would not go down well with Jews who would view this as anti-Semitic, Moslems who would see the US as anti-Moslem, and a xenophobic tint towards other faiths.
We are all aware that Israel is a state for all its citizens, irrespective of race, colour or creed. We are also aware that the majority of Israel's citizens are Jews and 20% are non-Jews. The character of Israel is determined by the majority of its inhabitants who are Jewish. So why is it necessary to emphasize this in the Pledge of Allegiance? Surely there is a discriminatory intention to dissuade non-Jews from becoming naturalized citizens? A pledge of loyalty to the State of Israel is sufficient and is no danger to Israel's existence? The pledge of allegiance to the State of Israel should be applicable to all its naturalized citizens including those who arrived under the Law of Return.
Perhaps it is Likud strategy to appease the right wing parties in the coalition, including Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu Party which is also a very strong coalition partner and is very much part of the ideology behind this declaration-citizen law.
The introduction of this strange law could also be a form of digression to free Netanyahu from making a decision over extending the settlement freeze. Here he can score points from the right wing that is unanimous in their support of the citizen allegiance law.
It is certain that despite Israel's claim to the contrary, it is not interested in wrapping up a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The continuation of building settlements in the occupied territories is proof that the Israeli Government wishes to continue to annex the occupied territories. Continuous building means the negation of the two state solution and the Palestinians can forget about ever getting their own state. Would there be any point in building new settlements if in the end there will be a withdrawal from the occupied territories? One must remember that the situation in the West Bank is far more complex than in the occupied Gaza Strip when Israel withdrew unilaterally in August 2005.Many of the settlers who were forced to leave their homes still have not found alternative housing and are living in temporary homes.
The Israeli Government is creating a situation on the ground whereby there will be movement towards a bi-national state that will subject the Palestinians to an apartheid-like situation of being second class citizens who will have to plead allegiance to the State of Israel being a Jewish and democratic state. This catastrophic scenario could be the result in the future.
Surely it would be beneficial to both Palestinians and Israelis if the moratorium on settlements continues to allow both parties to negotiate a solution to the conflict. Both sides are not interested in a solution for the reasons I have already mentioned in a previous article.