Stephens: What would a better Israeli prime minister do?

A better Israeli prime minister than Benjamin Netanyahu would immediately hold an election. Israelis deserve a government they believe can bring them out of crisis, not one that got them into this crisis. If that government is still led by Netanyahu, at least he would have an honest mandate, and dissenting Israelis would have fewer reasons to protest him. It would also give the prime minister more authority over a military that seems to think that it can openly oppose the views of its civilian masters.

A better Israeli prime minister would declare the following policy on a Palestinian state: Israel’s government will work toward one that looks like Costa Rica or the United Arab Emirates. It will oppose and obstruct one that is likely to look like Yemen or Afghanistan. If the character of a Palestinian state would be moderate, not militant, committed to the prosperity of its people, not to the destruction of its neighbors, then the likelihood of its creation would be far greater.

A better Israeli prime minister would create long-term safe zones within the Gaza Strip — at least while Israel remains in the territory — for women, children, the elderly and the sick. These would be monitored and financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development and its European counterparts; open to foreign journalists; and well provided with food, shelter and medicine. The zones would alleviate humanitarian distress, put fewer civilians in harm’s way, end the constant displacement of Palestinians from one part of the territory to another, simplify Israel’s efforts to strike terrorists, and deprive Hamas of some of its frequent propaganda victories in the battle of images.

Postwar vision for Gaza

A better Israeli prime minister would offer a postwar vision for Gaza: no Israeli occupation of any part of the territory in exchange for a 10-year Arab mandate for Gaza. It would be led by Arab states that have diplomatic relations with Israel, preferably including Saudi Arabia, with the goal of providing Palestinians with security and governance while ensuring that Hamas does not remain in power. Norway, Ireland, Spain and other governments that recognize Palestinian statehood should put their money where their mouths are by providing reconstruction assistance. If it succeeds, it can become a model for the West Bank.

A better Israeli prime minister would offer safe passage out of Gaza to Qatar for all Hamas fighters and leaders in exchange for the release of all remaining Israeli hostages, living and dead. Yahya Sinwar and the other masterminds of Oct. 7 can be brought to justice later. But Israel should strike no deal that effectively legitimizes Hamas’ continued grip on power.

A better Israeli prime minister would never accept ministers who aren’t qualified for their jobs, above all in a time of war. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister of national security, never served in the military. Bezalel Smotrich, the minister of finance, has no background in finance. Elections may bring right-wing rabble-rousers to power, but elections don’t require the prime minister to keep them in positions where …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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