PORTLAND, USA, March 2 (IPS) – Today’s Israel as a Jewish and democratic state is one contradiction of conditions and as such can possibly be transformed into a genuinely democratic Israel tomorrow with justice and equality for all.
In Israel today are citizens who are not Jews treated differently than those who are Jews, who benefit from certain rights and privileges. In a national opinion poll, most Jewish Israelis, approx 80 percent, says Jews should get preferential treatment in Israel. Also, almost half of Jewish Israelis say that Arab Israelis should be expelled or transferred from Israel.
In addition, several years ago Israel passed the “Nation-State Law”, which, among other things, states that the right to exercise national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people and also established Jewish settlement as a national value. Although embraced by many Jewish Israelis, the nation-state law was considered apartheid of the country’s non-Jewish population, ostensibly making them second-class citizens.
In a democratic Israel, by contrast, all Israelis, regardless of their religious affiliation, would have the same rights and privileges. In such a state, justice and equality would prevail over the entire population of the country, not just for a single dominant religious group.
A democratic Israel would be similar in many respects to the West liberal democracies such as the United States. In that democracy, all religious groups, including Jewish Americans, have the same rights, privileges, and equality under the law.
Most Jewish Israelis, some 75 percent across the religious spectrum, continue to believe that Israel can be a Jewish state and a democracy. In contrast, non-Jewish Israelis, inclusive majorities of Muslims, Christians and Druze, generally do not believe that Israel can be a Jewish state and a democracy at the same time; it is simply seen as inconsistent.
Further complicating political, legal and human rights for Israelis as well as Palestinians is the new government’s latest proposal the legal reformwhich would affect the independence of Israel’s Supreme Court.
Many Israelis have taken to the streets to protest the proposed reform. Objections to the reforms are addressed by former government officials, military officers, business investors and Other. Foreign alliesabove all officialsJew leader and journalists in America, has also expressed concern over the proposals. In addition, have majority of Israelis, roughly two-thirds, oppose the proposed judicial reform.
In terms of demographics, Population of Israel totaled 9.656 million at the end of 2022. The population composition was 74 percent Jewish, 21 percent Arab (mostly Christian and Muslim), and 5 percent other (Figure 1).
In 1948, when Israel was established, the country’s share of Jews was 82 percent of the population 806 thousand. In the 1960s, the percentage of Jews reached a record high of almost 90 percent. Since that high, the percentage of Jews in Israel has steadily declined to its current level of 74 percent.
In addition to Israel’s changing demographics, the Jewish Israeli population has not been limited since then 1948 borders. A large number have expanded into settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Israel’s Jewish settler population in the West Bank, for example, is now estimated at more than half a million. Many of the esteemed 700 thousand It is Jewish Israelis who now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem motivated through their religious mission to restore historical Israel to the Jewish people.
The Jewish settler population continues to increase rapidly in the West Bank, which is a highest priority of ultra-nationalist parties opposed to Palestinian statehood.
The Israeli government has too promised to legalize wild outposts and increase the approval and construction of settler homes in the West Bank.
In contrast, the UN Safety advice and a lot of international community of nations, including the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, continue to support the idea of an independent Palestinian state. However, the changing demography of the West Bank has practically eliminated the possibility of the two-state solution.
Without the two-state solution, Jewish Israelis face a major challenge affecting their majority status, namely the possibility of a one-state solution.
The one-state solution would involve the entire Israeli and Palestinian population now living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In such a population of about 15 million inhabitants, the Jewish population would become a ruling minority of about 47 percenta fundamental change from the sizable Jewish majority of 74 percent in Israel today (Figure 2).
Even today, the Israeli government confronts human rights issues with its expansion into the occupied Palestinian territories. International, Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations as well as independent observers have found that Israeli authorities practice apartheid and persecution in the occupied Palestinian territories.
According to these human rights organizations, the Israeli government’s policy is to maintain Dominion of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians as well as abuses and discriminatory policies against Palestinians living in the occupied territories.
Israel rejects these accusations, saying it is a democracy and committed to international law and open to scrutiny. The government cites security concerns and protecting Israeli lives for its imposition of travel and related restrictions on Palestinians, whose violence has previously included suicide bombings of Israeli cities and deadly attacks on Israelis.
Many have come to the conclusion that given policy by the current Israeli government, a political path for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully is simply wishful thinking. For some, the two-state solution is effective death and it simply awaits its formal burial.
In addition, the human cost of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been high and rising. So far in 2023, the conflict has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 63 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
From 2008 to 2020 speech of the deaths and injuries from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict documented by the United Nations were 251 and 5,590 deaths respectively, and 5,600 and 115,000 injuries respectively. In short, during that time period, approximately 95 percent of those killed and injured due to the conflict were Palestinians (Figure 3).
It is clear that the Israeli government and many Israelis would like to continue the Jewish settler expansion on the West Bank. That expansion is clearly serious consequences for the resident Palestinian population and the Israelis and the prospect of an independent Palestinian state.
The demise of the two-state solution and the possible one-state solution also creates a major foreign and domestic dilemma for the United States, Israel’s major political, military and economic supporter and greatest ally.
Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid, estimated at more than 3 billion dollars annually and more than 150 dollars cumulatively. America has also vetoed scores of UN Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, including at least 53 since 1973.
Given America’s commitment to democratic values, religious freedom, and equal citizenship, White HouseUSA SenatorsCongress Representatives as well as that of the nation national will be faced with how to respond to the absence of a possible Palestinian state and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
In the absence of the two-state solution, it will be increasingly difficult for the US to continue its unwavering commitment and unequivocal support against the backdrop of Israeli policy and treatment of the Palestinians. Perhaps, consistent with its values and laws, America will decide to support the one-state solution with all residents equal, regardless of religious identity.
More importantly, in the absence of a truly independent Palestinian state, Israel may be slow to embrace one-state solution. Eventually, especially given the inescapable demographic realities that are strikingly visible on the ground, Israel may possibly come to realize that it is time to transform the Israel of today into a truly democratic Israel of tomorrow with justice and equality for all.
Joseph Chamie is a consulting demographer, former head of the UN Population Division and author of numerous publications on population questions, including his latest book, “Population Levels, Trends and Differences”.
© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service