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Daily Israel Report

Meretz Leader: The Only Solution is Two States

Despite Kassams, anti-Israel education/incitement, demands for refugees, etc, the leader of Israel’s left still says: Give the Arabs another state.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 12/23/2008, 12:29 PM

The Meretz party remains consistent. Despite the increasing Kassam and Katyusha rockets on Israel that resulted from the Disengagement, and despite the anti-Israel education/incitement in the Palestinian Authority, and despite the Hamas insistence on Israel’s destruction, as per its charter, the leader of Israel’s left-wing still says: Give the Arabs another state, in the heartland of Israel.

MK Chaim Oron, 68, is the newly-elected leader of the far-left Meretz party, which on Monday, approved a merger of its list of candidates for the upcoming elections with those of a nascent, unnamed left-wing movement. The merger gives former State Prosecution attorney Talia Sasson and reporter Nitzan Horowitz a realistic shot at entering the Knesset. Meretz is expecting to increase the number of its MKs – currently six – at the expense of the ailing Labor Party.

Oron laid out his political philosophy for Ronen Liebowitz of the News1 Hebrew-language website this week. “I hope to return Meretz to be the leading social-democratic movement in the Israeli left,” he said. “In the past, it used to be that the head of Labor was the head of Israel’s left, but today it is not like that. The left does not have a recognized leader.”

Meretz Wants Livni
Oron said he hopes to create a bloc that will prevent Binyamin Netanyahu from becoming Prime Minister: “If we succeed, Tzipi Livni [of Kadima] will be the Prime Minister, and we will want to become a significant factor in the government, despite everything there is in Kadima. If Netanyahu heads the government, we will fulfill our democratic role in the opposition.”

All of Judea/Samaria, or Equal Area, to Fatah/Hamas
“There is one solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict, Oron says, “and that is two states for two peoples, with the compromise being made on the 1967 borders. [That is,] if we want to keep some settlement blocs, then for every dunam [quarter-acre] we take beyond the 1967 borders, we will pay with a dunam within the Green Line.

"In Jerusalem," Oron demands, "there will be two capitals, for Israel and for Palestine. The problem of refugees will be solved within the Palestinian state, and there will be no right of return to the State of Israel; the refugees will return to that Palestinian state. It is in Israel's supreme interest that the refugee problem should be solved.”

Oron is resolute on these points, despite the fact that the PA has shown no sign of giving in on the question of the refugees. He similarly does not relate to the hatred of Israel and Jews inculcated via the PA’s educational system, which would render a Palestinian presence in the backyards of Israeli cities and towns in the Jezreel Valley, Coastal Plain, and all along the Green Line [1949 Armistice Line] an existential danger. In addition, the complexities and dangers of turning Jerusalem into two capitals are rarely addressed by left-wing spokesman.

What about the increased rocket attacks on the Negev since the Disengagement? “It’s too bad that we left Gaza without a mutual agreement," Oron says, "but even now I would say that we cannot be in Gaza. For what’s the alternative? Even when we were there we were attacked by mortar shells and Kassams.”

Oron does not address the fact that the rockets upon Sderot became a significant threat only as the Disengagement neared. Additional cities such as Ashdod and Be’er Sheva have come within range, or close to it, only because of the free hand that the terrorists in Gaza have been allowed.

'Right-Wing and Hamas Working Together'
Oron has harsh words for Israel’s nationalist camp: “The right-wing is working together with Hamas so that Hamas will take over the West Bank [Judea and Samaria], and then everyone will say that there is no one to talk to. And then there will be more terrorist attacks, and then #7 on the Likud list will say he’ll change their diskette [an apparent reference to Ariel Sharon, who became prime minister seven years ago with a promise to strike militarily against the terrorists – ed.]. But meanwhile, it’s our diskette that is changing…”

Oron makes use of the perceived demographic threat as well. “The continued occupation endangers the State of Israel more than an atom bomb,” he avers. “I am sure that there will be a non-Jewish majority in Israel if we don’t leave the territories.” Researchers such as Yoram Ettinger, Bennett Zimmerman, historian Dr. Roberta Seid, Dr. Michael Wise, and former Head of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria Brig.-Gen. (ret.) David Shahaf, have debunked the demographic claims as serious Israeli considerations in peace negotiations.

"Five thousand Palestinian babies are born each year in Jerusalem," Oron said. "They will be here, they were born here, they did not come from elsewhere, this is their homeland. They will remain here as citizens of the State of Israel.”

Zimmerman and Ettinger have shown, however, that by 2005, Jews had achieved a fertility advantage, with Jewish and Arab fertility rates converging for the first time in Jerusalem.  They reported that Arab total fertility rates had plunged from 4.5 births/woman in 2004 to match steadily rising Jewish fertility rates of 3.9 births/woman. In addition, Jewish fertility rates in Judea/Samaria suburbs were 4.7births/woman, a level higher than Arabs residents in the same area.

Oron's New Term for Israeli-Arabs
Oron 
has a new term for Israeli-Arabs: Palestinian Israeli Arabs. He therefore does not like Livni’s recent comments implying that if a Palestinian state is created, Israeli-Arabs should move to it. “If we interpret her comments as they sound, she said something terrible,” Oron declared. “The State of Israel is a Jewish democratic state with an Arab minority… The Arab minority in the State of Israel is a national minority. They are Palestinian Israeli Arabs.”