One year has passed since the Israeli elections, when Benjamin Netanyahu so swiftly took the Knesset from the hands of Tzipi Livni, and it is safe to say that the present government has failed radically on a few fronts: Gilad Shalit, the peace process, and perhaps most of all, allowing Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon to continue to serve.
Until now, I have not written much about the Israeli soldier who has been held hostage in Gaza since June 2006. Yet, I think of him constantly and I am thankful for all those who have worked to keep his memory alive. No war has been able to get him released and Hamas refuses to allow international organizations access to visit him. Last year, on September 30th, Hamas released a video clip in exchange for 20 Palestinian women prisoners. This tape set off a wave of excitement and it seemed that in no time he would be returned home; but to no avail. A deal, proposing an exchange of 1000 Palestinian prisoners for him, fail through, despite the hard work of the German negotiator. I for one will not forget Gilad and will continue to demand that both sides adhere to international laws concerning the holding of enemy combatants and civilians.
As for the peace process, one can only ask what peace process. The current government has its eye on Iran, while diverting the attention of the real challenge: a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians which would lead them to an independent state. For me to call out FREE PALESTINE now would simply fall on deaf ears (simply since this has turned into somewhat of a cliché and it seems farther away than ever). However, I have to say it. The occupation has gone on for 42 years, and Israel has no time to waste. For years, we, in the leftist camp, would declare the need for a state out of some humanistic reasoning; now Israel does not have that option. Simply, demographics are at work and if Israel is not careful a Jewish state will seem like something of the past. On this topic, I promise to write more during the upcoming months. What is clear to me more than ever is that to continue to place blame on the “right wing” and “settlers” will get us nowhere since real change has not taken place due to the fickleness of the political center, and not as a result of the political maneuvering of the right.
Lastly, on the diplomatic front, the Foreign Minister has been quite a surprise. Avigdor Lieberman, the one who almost all love to hate, has met an enormous number of foreign ministers and seems to be working much more than the average Israeli politician. However, as long as Danny Ayalon remains his deputy he really need not worry; Ayalon has stolen the show and takes the prize as the most incompetent and damaging figure Israel has encountered in years. Whether it was the public humiliating of the Turkish Ambassador, the snubbing of US congressmen due to their trip-affiliation with the American Jewish pro-peace camp organization J Street, or the almost bragging about the alleged Mossad assassination of the Hamas member in Dubai, Ayalon has proven time and time again that he is unfit for the job –or any public position for that matter. The damage he has caused is immeasurable and it is about time that he goes home.