With the delusion of maintaining a Jewish, democratic state – a concept that never existed post 1948 and even less so today with the occupation of millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and discrimination against Arabs in Israel proper – the Israeli leader sounds like any number of liberal Zionists desperate to maintain Jewish supremacy (at the expense of true democracy for all):
Israel’s prime minister said Tuesday that he still hopes to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians, because the alternative would be absorbing them into Israel and destroying the Jewish character of the state.
“I want to solve the conflict with the Palestinians because I don’t want a binational state,” Netanyahu told a rare news conference. “For as long as it depends on me, we will ensure the Jewish and democratic character of Israel.”
The statement was notable because it in effect concedes a key argument made by Netanyahu’s ideological opponents on Israel’s Zionist left: A pullout from territories the Palestinian claim for a state is not just a concession that could be made in exchange for peace — but also an imperative for an Israel that wants to remain a Jewish state that is also democratic.
Jews make up roughly 80 percent of Israel’s almost 8 million people. However, if Israel is combined with the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem — the lands it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war — then the Arab population nears parity, and in the view of some demographers is likely to become a majority soon.
Indeed, as the prospect of peace seems to grow more remote, increasingly there are voices on the Palestinian side predicting — as a threatened default rather than a desired outcome — a “one-state solution” in which Jews and Arabs have equal status.
The so-called “demographic argument” for a pullout has become more critical to the dovish Israeli opposition in recent years, especially since the Palestinian uprising of 2000-2005, punctuated by grisly suicide bombings that killed hundreds, left many in Israel distrustful of Palestinian intentions and despairing of ever reaching peace on agreed terms.