Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 15:26
After the announcement of the planned construction of 1,600 Israeli housing units in East Jerusalem, Haaretz's Gideon Levy put the absurdity on paper by declaring there is someone to blame now: Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai:
Here's someone new to blame for everything: Eli Yishai. After all, Benjamin Netanyahu wanted it so much, Ehud Barak pressed so hard, Shimon Peres wielded so much influence - and along came the interior minister and ruined everything.
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There we were, on the brink of another historic upheaval (almost). Proximity talks with the Palestinians were in the air, peace was knocking on the door, the occupation was nearing its end - and then a Shas rogue, who knows nothing about timing and diplomacy, came and shuffled all the proximity and peace cards.
The scoundrel appeared in the midst of the smile- and hug-fest with the vice president of the United States and disrupted the celebration. Joe Biden's white-toothed smiles froze abruptly, the great friendship was about to disintegrate, and even the dinner with the prime minister and his wife was almost canceled, along with the entire "peace process." And all because of Yishai.
Well, the interior minister does deserve our modest thanks. The move was perfect. The timing, which everyone is complaining about, was brilliant. It was exactly the time to call a spade a spade. As always, we need Yishai (and occasionally Avigdor Lieberman) to expose our true face, without the mask and lies, and play the enfant terrible who shouts that the emperor has no clothes.
For the emperor indeed has no clothes. Thank you, Yishai, for exposing it. Thank you for ripping the disguise off the revelers in the great ongoing peace-process masquerade in which nobody means anything or believes in anything.
What do we want from Yishai? To know when the Jerusalem planning committee convenes? To postpone its meeting by two weeks? What for? Hadn't the prime minister announced to Israel, the world and the United States, in a move seen at the time as a great Israeli victory, that the construction freeze in the settlements does not include Jerusalem? Then why blame that lowly official, the interior minister, who implemented that policy?
What's the big deal? Another 1,600 apartments for ultra-Orthodox Jews on occupied, stolen land? Jerusalem won't ever be divided, Benjamin Netanyahu promised, in another applause-winning move. In that case, why not build in it? The Americans have agreed to all this, so they have no reason to pretend to be insulted.
The interior minister should not apologize for the "distress" he caused, but be proud of it. He is the government's true face. Who knows, perhaps thanks to him America will finally understand that nothing will happen unless it exerts real pressure on Israel.
What would we do without Yishai? Biden would have left Israel propelled by the momentum of success. Netanyahu would have boasted of a renewed close friendship. A few weeks later, the indirect talks would have started. Europe would have applauded, and Barack Obama, the president of big promises, would even have taken a moment away from dealing with his country's health-care issues to meet with Netanyahu. George Mitchell, who has already scored quite a few diplomatic feats here, would shuttle between Ramallah and Jerusalem, and maybe Netanyahu would eventually have met with Mahmoud Abbas. Face to face. Then everything would have been sorted out.
Without preconditions, certainly without preconditions, Israel would have continued to build in the territories in the meantime - not 1,600 but 16,000 new apartments. The IDF would have continued arresting, imprisoning, humiliating and starving - all under the auspices of the peace talks, of course. Jerusalem forever. The right of return is out of the question, and so is Hamas. And onward to peace!
Months would go by, the talks would "progress," there would be lots of photo ops, and every now and then a mini-crisis would erupt - all because of the Palestinians, who want neither peace nor a state. At the very end, there might be another plan with another timetable that no one intends to keep.
Everything was so ready, so ripe, until that scoundrel, Yishai, came and kicked it all into oblivion. It's a bit embarrassing, but not so terrible. After all, time heals all wounds. The Americans will soon forgive, the Palestinians will have no choice, and once again everyone will stand ceremoniously on the platform and the process will be "jump-started" again - despite everything that the sole enemy of peace around here, Eli Yishai, has done to us.