MK Eitan Cabel, who has been serving in the Knesset since 1996, the year his party first lost to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud over the Israeli public’s rejection of the Oslo accords, on Thursday published an op-ed in Ha’aretz titled: “My Fellow Labor Members, It’s Time to Sober Up,” comparing his party’s dedication to the Oslo agreement’s 2-state solution to Israel’s conceptual failure that had led to the 1973 Yom Kippur war.
Cabel’s new political program begins with the item he calls “Giving up on the vision of signing peace agreements on the White House lawn.”
“As members of the Labor movement, we have a responsibility to formulate and present a political approach that would fit a reality that has changed beyond recognition, and therefore we must become disillusioned with the Oslo idea,” MK Cabel writes.
“The current imperative is to adopt a new strategy, based on the understanding and internalization of the fact that at this juncture there is no leadership on the Palestinian side that truly wants or is able to be a partner to a peace agreement with us,” he suggests.
Cabel calls on the Israeli government to decide the parameter of the “settlement blocs,” which he presumes should include about 300,000 out of the 400,000 Israelis living in Judea and Samaria. And then, “once a binding definition of the settlement blocs has been determined, Israeli law must be applied to them in full,” MK Cabel demands.
“The settlements in Judea and Samaria today have a complex system of laws, which is divided between military law and Israeli law, and sometimes also Jordanian law,” Cabel argues. “This situation harms Israeli civilians living under military law, which distinguishes them from all Israeli citizens and imposes unnecessary restrictions on them. There is no substantial reason for applying one law to a resident of Gush Etzion and another to a resident of Holon (near Tel Aviv),” he writes.
But all is not roses for the remaining 100,000 Israelis outside those settlement blocs. MK Cabel says a complete building freeze should be placed on their homes, communities and infrastructure, and a plan to evacuate and compensate them should begun being implemented.
MK Eitan Cabel is not known as a great asset to democracy in Israel. He was a leader in the effort to shut down the Arutz 7 radio station on the high seas; he also led the effort to shut down Israel Hayom, billionaire Sheldon Edelson’s rightwing daily freebie that challenged the dominance of the anti-Netanyahu Yedioth Aharonoth.
Cabel chairs the Knesset’s powerful Economic Affairs Committee. A Yemenite Jew, he is also member of the Special Committee on the Affair of the Disappearance of Yemenite, Mizrahi and Balkan Children.
Cabel, who served as platoon sergeant in the IDF’s Paratroopers Brigade, is not a Great Eretz Israel man by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, in his op-ed Thursday he advocate that “the state must stop all construction and planning, legal regulation and economic investments outside the settlement blocs, and promote a process of evacuation and compensation for the residents of the isolated settlements.”
His message, which turns upside down the Israeli left’s familiar—and tired—agenda, is practical, as befits a senior politician: “Eight times since Rabin’s assassination we have gone to the polls. Seven times we’ve lost. This is the painful truth. We cannot get the Israeli public to vote for us. For the past 40 years, we have not led the country – except for eight years under the leadership of Rabin, Peres and Barak.”
“In this period, Israeli society and the political map have changed, and the situation on the ground has changed between us and the Palestinians and the Arab world,” Cabel argues, suggesting that “in the past few decades, the responsibility has been primarily with the right which is leading the country, but we, the Labor Movement, also bear a responsibility.”
No doubt, this op-ed has been read with great interest both in Washington, DC, and in Ramallah.