Those who live behind its walls are still ruled by the Israeli state
From my latest in the National:
The former US president Jimmy Carter set off a firestorm in 2006 when he said that Israel would have to choose between maintaining an apartheid occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and a two-state peace agreement with the Palestinians. That Mr Carter brokered Israel’s most important peace treaty with an Arab country was immaterial; he was branded an enemy of Israel, an anti-Semite and even a Holocaust-denier.
Israel’s friends in the US reacted out of instinct, knowing that an association with apartheid – South Africa’s erstwhile system of racial oppression – would bring international condemnation and isolation. But there was no word of protest from that quarter last week when Israel’s defence minister said what Mr Carter had. “If, and as long as between the Jordan (River) and the (Mediterranean) Sea there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or non-democratic,” warned Ehud Barak, speaking at Israel’s annual Herzliya security conference. “If the Palestinians vote in elections it is a binational state and if they don’t vote it is an apartheid state.”
Which, of course, is exactly what Mr Carter was arguing…
…It should come as little surprise that Israelis are cool towards Mr Obama’s peace effort: Israel’s cost-benefit analysis weighs against pursuing a peace agreement that carries risk. There are no consequences for maintaining the status quo. Unless Mr Obama and others can change that cost-benefit analysis, they’re wasting their time.
It wasn’t a moral epiphany that prompted Rabin to embrace the Oslo peace process; it was his reading of the geopolitical situation at the end of the Gulf War, and the assumption that Israel could not rely on unconditional US support. But Mr Sharon and Mr Netanyahu subsequently proved that Israel can, in fact, count on US support without concluding a two-state peace – it simply must go through the motions of a “peace process”.
The apartheid fear for Israeli leaders is not of the moral turpitude of maintaining such a system – which they already do – it’s a fear of this being recognized for what it is.
Because apartheid ought to have consequences. In fact, if he is to have any hope of having any positive impact on the Middle East, President Barack Obama will have to make sure that there are consequences for Israel maintaining the status quo — consequences of sufficient seriousness to change the Israelis’ cost-benefit analysis that makes maintaining the status quo preferable to changing it.