Foreign Policy Blogs

The Threat Of The Vote?

Here’s an interesting idea from Robert Wright, writing in The New York Times.  The Palestinians should give up on negotiations, reject violence, and begin peaceful demonstrations asserting that they should be given the right to vote in Israel.  This movement would “gain immediate international support” and in “Europe and the United States, leftists would agitate in growing numbers for economic and political pressure on Israel.”  And then:

Suddenly facing a choice between a one-state solution and international ostracism, reasonable Israelis would develop a burning attraction to a two-state solution — and a sudden intolerance for religious zealots who stood in the way of it. Before long Israel would be pondering two-state deals more generous than anything that’s been seriously discussed to date.

A couple problems, though.  First, there are already peaceful demonstrations in the West Bank, and they don’t tend to end well.  A demonstration against the separation wall last week ended with a crackdown by Israeli forces, for example.  And as you can read here and here, such things are fairly typical.  Israeli forces have used tear gas to break up nonviolent demonstrations.  And Israel arrested high school teacher, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, for throwing stones, possessing arms, and inciting Palestinians.  He is now on trial, and has been cleared of the first two charges.  On the third charge, in the opinion of the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief, “the possible imprisonment of Mr Abu Rahmah is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a non violent manner.”

So where is the international outrage that Robert Wright promised?  Would it be any different if Palestinians were advocating for the vote?  It would probably actually be worse, as they would be threatening to implement Iran’s desired solution – a one-state settlement decided democratically by all the residents of Israel and the Palestinian territories.

And would it really help if “leftists” in the U.S. and Europe advocated putting economic and political pressure on Israel?  Isn’t that already happening, with little effect?

Wright has an interesting idea, but he’s fairly fantastical about how it might actually play out.