Left Wing Fears Future of Israel; Analysis; Opposition Argues That without a Palestinian State, Jews Will Soon Be a Minority in Their Own Country

Article excerpt

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL An apocalyptic tone has crept into Israels hitherto muted election season, with opposition leaders and others sounding increasingly desperate warnings that a few more years of rule by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus heavily favored right wing might well destroy the Jewish state.

The idea is that by holding onto the lands Palestinians want for their state and continuing to settle them with Jews the Israeli right is marching blindly toward a future in which Arabs could outnumber Jews and ultimately take over.

Perhaps the most strident proponent of this message is former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who four years ago led peace talks with the Palestinians and recently founded a new party whose primary message is that the Zionist project is in danger. Netanyahu is leading us toward the end of the Jewish state, she said in a statement Friday. Israelis must choose between extremism and Zionism. Israel is in great danger, and everyone must wake up now.

Outgoing opposition leader Shaul Mofaz, a former military chief and defense minister, warns at campaign appearances that Arabs will soon outnumber Jews in the Holy Land and that the main strategic priority must be to partition the land to prevent the emergence of a binational state. Leaders of the main center-left Labor Party say much the same.

Netanyahus majority depends on his Likud party in coalition with other nationalist and religious groups known as the right. Despite all its complications, the political spectrum ultimately resembles something of a two-party system.

The prime minister and his supporters have argued that Israel must not act in haste, and many on the right oppose any territorial concessions on the lands Israel captured in 1967 the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinians want to set up their state.

The author Amos Oz, who has long been viewed as an oracle of sorts in Israel, called the governing coalition the most anti- Zionist in the history of Israel for ignoring the demographic issue.

If there will not be two states here, neither will it (even) be a binational state it will be an Arab state, he was quoted by Haaretz as saying on Friday. They believe Jews can rule an Arab majority, (but) no apartheid nation in the world survived without collapsing in a few years.

Netanyahu himself has at times conceded the logic of the argument: Israel proper has 6 million Jews living alongside almost 2 million Arab citizens; with the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza thrown into the mix, the populations divide about evenly, and the Arab birthrate is higher. …