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29 June 2022

The party I’d like to vote for

By: Dr. Gershon Baskin
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We need a new political movement in Israel that would be the civilian bridge between the Jewish and Palestinian communities – the Jewish and the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The land between the river and the sea is the homeland of the Jewish people and it is also the homeland of the Palestinian people. Israel is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, bi-national and multi-tribal society.

The Palestinian citizens of Israel make up about 21% of the citizens. They must be seen by Israel as fully equal to the Jewish citizens of the state. The Palestinian citizens of Israel are Palestinian in their identity and they are also Israeli – they are native to this land. The path toward creating a peaceful state of Israel runs through ending Israeli control and domination over the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, negotiating a just and fair solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending Jewish superiority within Israel and seeking social justice for all citizens of the state.

We need a new political movement in Israel that would be the civilian bridge between the Jewish and Palestinian communities – the Jewish and the Palestinian citizens of Israel. We need political representation that in its very makeup and constitution symbolizes what the democratic state of Israel should be.

Today, the entire Israeli political system is organized around the Jewish and Palestinian national definitions that radicalize reality and are often presented as existential: either them or us. A new political party that embodies deep political partnership based on civic, constitutional and egalitarian premises could moderate the public discourse and create a new vision for Israel that respects and honors the multiplicity of identities that exist within the state.

The values of this political party would include:
– An uncompromising commitment to democracy both within the political party and within Israel. The commitment to democracy includes the relentless struggle to achieve full equality in rights and opportunities for all Israeli citizens from all communities and from all parts of the country.
– An uncompromising commitment to a political settlement between the Jewish and the Palestinian peoples, to be based on justice and a commitment to the principle that between the river and the sea, every person and every community has the right to the same rights.
– An uncompromising fight against violence by anyone who seeks to deprive or nullify the rights and freedoms of others.
– Empathetic and sensitive recognition of the national traumas of both peoples.
– Correcting past injustices, without creating new injustices and adversities.
– Commitment to the enactment of a civil constitution and basic laws that are based on democracy for all and full equality between all the various Israeli tribes and communities.
– Social justice that is reflected in the fairness of the distribution of public resources.
– Secularization of the public space which belongs to all, and respect and appreciation creating an enabling environment for the expression of faith and identity of every citizen and community in ways that allow for the celebration of our cultures, religious identities and our collective diversity.

THIS NEW political party would assert that any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be based on the building of bridges, and not walls and fences. The Jewish and Palestinian citizens political party would not advocate a particular solution to the conflict, whether one state, two states, three states, ten states or a federation or confederation of states. Cooperation and partnership must be underlying principles of any solution. The new political party would express its values in the creation of a list of social and political activists from the periphery regions of the country to the center, including equal numbers of Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, women and men, in a way that would seek to provide as much equal representation as possible.

On the immediate agenda of this party would be:
– The passing of the Basic Law: Equality of All Citizens.
– The nullification of the Jewish Nation-State Law.
– The renewal of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
– The creation of a state national committee of Jewish and Palestinian citizen experts, headed by a Supreme Court judge on the means to close the gaps between the Jewish and Palestinian citizens, which will issue a report and recommendations within a year. The committee will be open to the public and transparent in its hearings.

I would be very happy to support this kind of political party. I and hundreds of others have been working for years to see its creation. Its time has come.

The participation in government of Ra’am, headed by Dr. Mansour Abbas, has broken the glass ceiling enabling Palestinian citizens of Israel to play a much more active role in sitting at the table where the important decisions are being made. 50% of the Palestinian citizens of Israel did not vote in the last elections.

I believe that the creation of a joint Jewish-Palestinian citizens party would attract many of the Palestinian Israeli citizens to participate, as well as attract Jewish voters who did not vote because none of the other political parties embodied hope.Labor and Meretz should merge into one party because the differences between them are less than their common goals and values. If Blue & White and New Hope merge, the chances increase that Ra’am and the new Jewish-Palestinian list could all become part of a new government led by Yesh Atid. I would hope that the Joint List of Palestinian Israelis would also join such a coalition.

Israel’s future will be based on our ability to create active joint citizenship platforms, especially in the political sphere. The so-called experiment of an Arab political party as part of the governing coalition did not fail.

It challenged our political system and has pushed us forward in the right direction: the direction where all citizens have a chance for a voice in determining what our shared country is all about.

* A political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to peace between Israel and her neighbors. He is now directing The Holy Land Bond. - gershonbaskin@gmail.com

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