As an Israeli who yearns to see my country living alongside our Palestinian neighbors in peace, freedom and equality, I’ve watched the unfolding chaos in the West Bank with sadness and frustration.
Under the so-called “leadership” of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his far-right government, there is no real security for Israelis, no check on the extremist settlement movement, and no concern for Palestinian rights and aspirations.
This government has no intention of addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or to ending the occupation – only plans to double down on the same failed policies that have pushed the situation from bad to worse.
2023 has already been one of the deadliest years for Palestinians since the UN began recording data in 2005. Terror attacks against Israelis have surged. IDF operations throughout the West Bank, including this week’s massive incursion into Jenin, grow more intensive by the week, on a scale that hasn’t been seen since the days of the Second Intifada. Settlers have launched violent pogroms against Palestinian communities, burning homes and cars and committing what the IDF itself has called “nationalist terrorism.”
As a former IDF officer, I know Israel faces very real security threats, and believe that our political and military leaders must do everything in their power to protect the Israeli people. I also know that there is NO military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or to the disastrous one-state reality in the West Bank.
No matter how intensively the Netanyahu government cracks down militarily on the West Bank and Gaza, or how tough they talk about “crushing the enemy” and expanding settlements, they continue to fail to provide true, lasting security to Israelis.
Even as the IDF operation against Palestinian militants in Jenin was ongoing, a 20-year-old Palestinian man from the West Bank carried out a car-ramming attack in Tel Aviv, injuring nine Israelis. Today, an Israeli was shot and killed in another terror attack near a West Bank settlement.
In explaining their operation in Jenin, the government states that they seek to combat terror and restore control over the city to the Palestinian Authority (PA), and that Israel sees the PA as a key security partner to combat militants in the West Bank.
Yet this government – and other Netanyahu-led governments before it – have done everything they can to undermine, weaken and destroy the power of their PA security partners – confiscating Palestinian taxes, denying the PA’s legitimacy and failing to offer any peaceful political path to freedom and independence.
In a recent meeting with Israeli lawmakers, the prime minister reportedly told them that Israel “needs the Palestinian Authority” – but that Israel also “needs to crush [the Palestinian] ambition” for an independent state.
Is it any wonder that most Palestinians today feel only despair and desperation? That those who dream of a free and safe future for their families see no path to get there?
The Israeli far-right’s only vision is for permanent, unyielding military occupation of millions of Palestinians until the end of time. But we know that no people can or will accept permanent statelessness without basic rights or freedoms. We know that Israeli democracy cannot survive if it is based on forever ruling over millions of Palestinians whose lives are restricted and controlled and who lack any say over how they are governed.
The truth has long been clear: The only path to the peace both Israelis and Palestinians deserve is through a genuine commitment to ending the conflict, ending the occupation and delivering both Israelis and Palestinians the right to live freely, peacefully and equally in two independent states.
That is the path we are committed to here at J Street. As the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans, we’re proud to stand up to the right-wing’s disastrous agenda – and to push for US policies that genuinely promote peace, security, equality and self-determination for both peoples.
As Netanyahu, Smotrich and Ben-Gvir continue to push Israelis and Palestinians deeper into the one-state nightmare, we desperately need our friends and allies in the United States to push back and help create a pathway to peace.
The Biden Administration should restore the longstanding, bipartisan US position that settlements are inconsistent with international law, and further reinforce the critical differentiation between Israel and the West Bank. They should stop providing blanket diplomatic immunity for the Israeli government from accountability under international law. And they should make sure that US funds are not being used to deepen occupation or facilitate settler violence – at the expense of Palestinian safety and Israel’s long-term democratic future.
As more and more of my fellow Israelis come to understand the true danger posed to our democracy by this extreme government, we need our friends to stand with us to make clear that a better future is both vital and possible.