Lisa Goldman is the director of the Israel-Palestine Initiative at the New America Foundation and a co-founder of and contributing editor at +972.
Nobody really knows where to go from here. With the failure of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s initiative, during which the Netanyahu government accelerated settlement expansion even as it claimed to be taking the talks seriously, it looks as though the United States will refrain from any further attempts to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The Kerry talks, after all, came after more than two decades of failed U.S. diplomatic initiatives in Israel-Palestine. And all they have to show is a further entrenchment of the military occupation, in tandem with a dramatic shift rightward in Israeli opinion and a precipitous decline in the Palestinian Authority’s credibility.
But in the absence of even the appearance of diplomatic engagement, there is now a complete vacuum in which hopelessness, frustration, rage, intolerance and extremism are festering.
In its editorial of July 7, Haaretz recommends a social revolution for Israel. Referring to the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, allegedly at the hands of Jewish teenagers from the Jerusalem area, the authors of the editorial write, “Without a revolution based on humanist values, the Jewish tribe will not be worthy of its own state.” That is a laudable sentiment, but a bit mushy. What, in practical terms, must be done? The obvious answer, which has remained unchanged for 47 years, is that Israel must end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and enforce equal civil rights for all of Israel’s citizens, regardless of nationality or ethnicity. I am not alone, however, in feeling that the window for a two-state solution closed some time ago. While I believe that shared sovereignty is a just and admirable idea in theory, I do not see how it can be achieved in the near future without violence — given that the vast majority of Israeli Jews would object strongly to the idea of giving up Jewish majority rule.
For now, as an interim step leading toward some kind of shared sovereignty or consociational agreement in the medium or long term, the best way forward is to begin the steps toward granting civil rights for all the people living under Israeli rule while conducting a very tough conversation in Israel about the true nature of democratic values. Given the long, long lines of religious Zionist Jews who waited to pay their condolences at the Abu Khdeir family’s mourning tent in Shuafat, I think it is genuinely possible to have this conversation. Most people do have a conscience. They just need to face and conquer their fears.