At least, Livni did not lose

It is a tremendous relief that Tzipi Livni was not trounced in this vote.

By the narrowest of leads — the Israeli election commission now gives Livni’s Kadima Party 28 seats while the next highest party has 27, and some votes are still not counted — she seems to have “won” the most votes in yesterday’s election.

Or, at least she did not lose — as had been widely predicted.

Yet, there is still a chance she may not get to form the next government. If the apparent runner-up in the election, Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu’s Likud Party, is able to demonstrate to Israel’s State President Shimon Peres that he can put together a coalition government of parties from the right, that would pose a real dilemma.

Would Peres give Livni a first shot, anyway?

But, then again, why should much of the world be so absorbed by these elections — and all the attendant exotic minutiae of the Israeli political scene?

The only reason is the real concern to know if there is any reasonable chance to see a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Livni’s placement in the polls suggest that Israel’s voters have not rejected continuing peace negotiations with the Palestinians, despite the heady anti-Arab/anti-Palestinian atmosphere that has only thickened with the national feelings of justification for the recent military attacks in Gaza, angrily oblivious of strong international criticism.

Her enormously unattractive behavior during Israel’s recent 22-day military invasion of Gaza — threatening more and worse — turned many potential supporters from Israel’s “left” against her, even as most pre-election predictions indicated a victorious Israeli “right”.

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Palestinians are splintered – Benvenisti is right

Yes, the Israelis have succeeded in splintering, as well as shattering the Palestinians, dividing one group against another, so there is no cohesive opposition. And yes, the Palestinians have allowed it to happen. They’ve fallen for it: hook, line and sinker.

“Splintering as a Strategy” is Meron Benvenisti’s perceptive article published now in the online Haaretz.

He starts out with the dizzying list of news developments in this pre-November meeting build-up. What’s the connection between all these developments?

Benvenisti gives the answer: “The connection appears to be merely coincidental; after all, what connection does the JNF [Jewish National Fund, which controls sales of state-owned land in Israel] have to Katyushas? But a more thorough examination may reveal that, in fact, they are different aspects of what is called ‘the Palestinian problem. We have broken down this problem, for our convenience, into small issues, on the assumption that ‘if it is smaller, it will be more convenient to deal with’. We are so accustomed to the paradigm of dismantling issues that we have forgotten that it is not the ‘problem’ that we have broken down into its parts, but rather we have caused the Palestinian people to shatter, over the last three generations, into subgroups. We have not merely crushed them with force but also caused them to take upon themselves split identities and to surrender to an agenda that we have dictated to them”.

Benvenisti continues: “The Palestinian participants in the negotiations ahead of the Annapolis conference humbly accept their role as the representatives of the Palestinian splinter that lives in the West Bank, and are struggling to get better conditions for about only one quarter of the entire Palestinian nation. Others will deal with the fate of the remining splinters – the Gazans, Palestinian Israelis, the diaspora, and residents of East Jerusalem. The residents of East Jerusalem want only to be left alone and not to be forced … to forego the privileges they enjoy as Israeli residents …

“The Palestinian Israelis are fighting for the right to lease land from the JNF as part of their demand for recognition as a ‘national minority’ and for equal rights. They do not tie their struggle to the struggle of their brethren who live on the other side of the separation fence.

“The Hamas activists in the Gaza Strip are not interested in the implications of their violent acts and their rhetoric about the interests of the entire Palestinian nation, and are continuing with their policies that bring in their wake the ostracism and excommunication of one-and-a -half million Palestinians.

“And those in the diaspora? They are continuing to carry around the keys to the homes that they left in 1948 and to dream of ‘returning’.

“The process of splitting up into sub-communities has not yet reached its consummation, and the political, economic and security constraints are deepening the entrenchment of the divided identities.

“The Zionist enterprise, whose development challenged the Palestinian Arab community and unified it into a distinct national group, became over the generations the dominant force under whose fist the Palestinian community was shattered. The process of splintering became the major tool of Israeli control …
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