Moshe Ya’alon is telling it like it is: What you see now in the West Bank and Gaza is Israel’s solution.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon gave a few holiday interviews to the Israeli media. Ya’alon, who has been Netanyahu’s closest partner in the coalition since the Gaza war, was fairly open when he spoke about the Palestinian issue, and a couple of his answers were especially telling.
When asked by the pro-Netanyahu paper Yisrael Hayom whether he sees in Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas a partner for peace, Ya’alon not only rejected the idea, but went on to dismiss the mere notion of “solving” the Palestinian issue. In short, Ya’alon thinks that maintaining control over the Palestinians is in Israel’s national interest, which no “solution” can or should compromise on.
I believe this is the view of most of the Israeli establishment right now. But Ya’alon, as Secretary Kerry learned last year, has a habit of saying what others around him are thinking.
I am not looking for a solution, I am looking for a way to manage the conflict and the maintain relations in a way that works for our interests. We need to free ourselves of the notion that everything boils down to only one option called a [Palestinian] state. As far as I am concerned let them call it the Palestinian Empire. I don’t care. It is an autonomy if it is ultimately a demilitarized territory. That is not a status quo, it is the establishment of a modus vivendi that is tolerable and serves our interests.”
What is interesting in the above quote is the light it sheds on the idea of a Palestinian state: Netanyahu and his government were willing to sign onto something that would be called a state (they can call it the Palestinian Empire for all Ya’alon cares), but never an independent state, the way the world understand this term. So even if the Kerry process would have ended with an agreement, it could not have ended the occupation. And nothing the Palestinians say or do can change that.
Regarding Gaza, Ya’alon has the same idea – maintaining the conflict:
“We withdrew from Gaza. The Gazans chose Hamas, which in turn chose to manufacture rockets instead of exporting strawberries, and for that they are paying a price. It is probably not a permanent and stable solution, but it is important to talk about ‘crisis management’ in regard to Gaza as well as Judea and Samaria [West Bank – N.S.] in such a way that will serve our interests.
I highly recommend checking out Larry Derfner’s feature on the Israeli establishment’s view post-Gaza. I think Ya’alon pretty much confirmed everything in it. As I wrote here before, the Gaza war was part of Israel’s strategy of maintaining the status quo. This is Netanyahu and Ya’alon’s solution.