Tel Aviv, Israel-After many years in the political wilderness of Israel, the small dove parties that supported Palestinian statehood and opposed Jewish settlements returned to the government. But they found their influence was limited, their pro-immigrant alliance partners had little willingness to compromise, and the decades-long occupation of the country continued.
With the vigorous development of settlement construction, peace negotiations became a distant memory. When the hope of the Palestinian state gradually disappeared under their watch, all parties had to control themselves. Nonetheless, left-leaning legislators say that their presence in the coalition is important, while the other option is even worse.
However, the occupation continues. Under the leadership of the current government, Israel has made progress in building thousands of houses for settlers in the West Bank. Its defense minister declared six Palestinian human rights organizations illegal, claiming to have ties to a radical faction. As Israeli soldiers stood by or assisted the settlers, the radical settlers intensified their violent attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who led the country’s main settler lobby, rejected the idea of a Palestinian state, and Palestinians remain deeply pessimistic about the near future.
Israel’s two center-left parties, the Labour Party and Meretz, spent many years in the opposition. It has been ten years for the Labour Party, and for Meretz, the time is more than twice as long.
When the Labor Party came to power in the 1990s, resolving the conflict with the Palestinians was the core issue—even if settlement construction continued, as all Israeli governments have done for the past 54 years.
In the mid-1990s, the Labor Party-led government, including Meretz, signed a temporary peace agreement with the Palestinians, called the Oslo Agreement.
However, after a wave of attacks by Palestinian militants in 1996, the right-wing government took over the agreement in 1996, and then peace talks under the leadership of another short-lived Labour government failed in 2000, and a Palestinian uprising broke out later that year , So the advancement of the agreement has stalled. .
Some Labour and Meretz voters voted for the centrist Yesh Atid, which focuses on economic issues and is the second largest party in parliament.
After the elections in March, Meretz and the Labor Party agreed to shelve ideological differences and form a coalition led by Yesh Atid consisting of centrist and right-wing parties and an Islamic party opposed to Netanyahu’s rule.
But in the negotiations for the formation of the coalition, the nationalist parties prevented the doves from taking positions that would help formulate Palestinian policy. Gayil Talshir, a political analyst at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that nationalist parties also have experienced legislators who know who can push their priorities from scratch. This is a skill that left-leaning parties lacked after years of opposition.
She said that despite this, the left still has the influence to push some of its priorities. The coalition occupies a small majority in the parliament and needs the support of the Labour Party and Meretz, who have a total of 13 seats in the parliament. “No one really wants to participate in the election,” Talhill said.
For now, most of the influence of the left comes from its rhetoric, and it is even downplayed because of fear of faltering. After the government declared six Palestinian NGOs illegal, including groups that monitor Israel’s human rights violations in the occupied territories, the response was flat.
Nizan Horowitz, the leader of Meretz, who is the Minister of Health, asked for clarification and said it was worrying, but he did not condemn it.
Labor Party Public Security Minister Omar Barev said that although he is a member of the country’s security cabinet, the decision was made in his head.
The Labor Party and Meretz also failed to slow the expansion of settlements.
“Within these restrictions, we will do our best to promote as much of the agenda as possible,” she told the Associated Press recently.
In the months since the alliance was founded, after years of rupture under Netanyahu’s leadership, some small steps have been taken in repairing relations with the Palestinian self-government headed by Mahmoud Abbas. Several Israeli government ministers met with Abbas, and Israel issued more work permits to Palestinian workers.
Lior Amihai of Yesh Din Rights, which records settler violence against Palestinians, said he noticed a change in style, but it was not substantive. He said, for example, that a parliamentary hearing on settler violence was recently held, which he had not anticipated in other parliamentary meetings.
“I can’t point out the results in this field from a professional perspective, but there is a different feeling. You can cooperate with the Knesset,” Amihai said.
Senior Palestinian official Ahmad Majdalani said this change is only a superficial phenomenon, and Israel still has a long way to go.
“We believe that the current government has not changed its policy on the Palestinian issue,” he said.