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Uri Avnery: ‘The root cause of the crisis lies in the refusal to put an end to colonisation.’

Translated Saturday 12 July 2014, by Julian Jones

Uri Avnery, writer, journalist, co-founder of Gush Shalom, and symbol of the peace movement in Israel, expresses his worry at the rise of an extreme right hostile to every avenue for peace.

How is Benyamin Netanyahou’s government responsible for the events currently taking place?

It might be tempting to pinpoint the start of this escalation to the kidnapping and assassination of the three young Israeli settlers. In fact, if the global political climate is taken into account, the crisis started with the failure of peace negotiations initiated by the US. It is evident that the obstinate refusal of the Israeli government to put an end to the colonization of the West Bank is the root cause of the crisis.

Does the growing influence of the extreme right in Israel compromise any hope for peace in the short and medium term?

There are no longer any attempts towards peace. Those who go as far as burning alive a Palestinian adolescent are fascists and neo-nazis. They can’t be called anything but. They are extremists who know no limit. We are very worried. This premeditated act of immolation is unprecedented in Israel. A dangerous and violent extreme right is shadowed by a government which in itself belongs to the extreme right. Let’s not forget that the appointed Israeli Minister for Defence, Danny Danon, just after the kidnapping of the three young Israeli settlers, said that Israel should take heed of Vladimir Putin who ‘would raze entire villages to the ground one after the other if a Russian boy had been kidnapped’.

What is the state of the peace movement in Israel?

The pacifist movement is severely weakened, and more so than it has ever been. No major political force allied to the pro-peace side disputing the occupation is in a position to win the elections, to offer an alternative and change the political climate of the state of Israel.

Does the overall regional context, which is more unstable then ever, contribute to this new escalation?

Not in practice. However, the Netanyahou government does appeal to this regional context as a means of propaganda against peace.

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