Ronen Bergman is one of Israel's leading investigative journalists. The senior security and intelligence correspondent and analyst for Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and an anchor on a leading Israeli television news program, he is the author of three bestselling books published in Israel. He was awarded a PhD by Cambridge University for his dissertation about the Israeli Mossad.
Question: How does an Israeli define right-wing versus left-wing? Ronen Bergman: I wish I knew. Basically, it had a very strong distinction and it’s nothing about economics. It’s only about how you treat the issue of whether to give or not give the occupied territories.
Can we, as Israelis, guarantee or be sure that if we give back the Golan Heights that were taken from Syria during the war of 1967, will Syria comply with the agreement of sustainable peace with Israel?
Can we trust the Palestinians if we give them back the territories? For independent Palestinians state, that they would not launch another war, go on another attack against Israel and also the rest of the territory?
But this is the basic question. And this was the basic distinction between Right and Left. Right was voting against giving back territories, the Left said we have to compromise otherwise we are going to face a new war with either Syria or the Palestinians or both of them very sooon.
Nowadays, things have changed because the most right-wing Prime Minister Israel ever had, Ariel Sharon, gave back the Gaza Strip. Now, basically, he did it just to divert attention from the police inquiries against him in Israel. So, he did it for irrelevant reasons, but I would say this, the distinction is very, very narrow, and even Benjamin Netanyahu, now the right-wing leader, offered some compensation, some retreats to the Palestinians when he was the Prime Minister.
But if I were a Palestinian, I would prefer to have either Barak, the leader of the Labor Party, or Tzipi Livni rather than Nathaniel. Nathaniel comes on the ticket of being a hawkish, anti-Hamas, anti any withdrawal from the territories to power, and he would be elected, if elected, with the voices of the right-wing supporters. So, he would be reluctant to give up but they always say that things that you see from the Prime Minister’s office, you don’t see it from anywhere else. So, he would also have to make much, much more retreats and withdrawals than he declares now.
Recorded: Sep 19, 2008