The news out of Israel: in recent weeks Tzipi Livni had been trying to form a new coalition but has now decided to call for new elections after refusing to bow to the Shas party’s preconditions (which included a demand to never divide Jerusalem). Much to say about all of this of course. Those of us in the peace camp can at least take heart that Livni seems to be edging ahead of Likud’s Benyamin Netanyahu in recent polls.
I can’t help but wonder how things would have turned out if Livni had pursued a completely different approach to building her government. I commend to you this recent editorial from Ha’aretz, which encouraged Livni to include the Arab parties in coalition talks – something that Israeli Prime Ministers have historically avoided like the plague. As the editorial correctly points out:
When Arab citizens’ loyalty to the state is questioned, one must also examine the state’s loyalty to its Arab citizens. Someone ought to remind Livni, who stands at the head of a centrist party, once again: Arab factions represent a vital, legitimate portion of the public that cannot be ignored. They can be partners in the government if they agree to the government’s guidelines; they can support the government from the opposition; or they can oppose the government. But they must be treated exactly like the other factions in the legislature.
What an incredible political message Livni could have sent she had created such a coalition! Ah well, what else is there to do now but look on in horrified fascination as Israel gears up for another grueling election process when what it should be doing is hammering out a peace accord before it’s too late…