Israel's political stalemate has family over barrel
THEY might be a close-knit family of Jewish settlers who live in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but winemaker Yoram Cohen, his son Uriya and father-in-law Jacob Feldman each voted differently in last week's elections.
The reasons why says something about the state of Israel's brief but fraught history, and a lot about the country's knotted political system.
Mr Feldman, 71, voted Likud, the established conservative party of Benjamin Netanyahu that for now remains opposed to the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.
Yoram Cohen, 47, voted Kadima, the centrist party of Tzipi Livni that advocates an independent state of Palestine as the only way to preserve Israeli democracy.
Uriya Cohen, 20, voted National Union, the religious Zionist party that is resolutely opposed to a Palestinian state and supports Jewish settlement across all of the West Bank.
...Yoram Cohen is the one who led the family to the West Bank. He fell in love with Ofra, a settlement about 30 minutes' drive north of Jerusalem after visiting there in 1975. "I was still in high school and it was just a few houses then, but our school brought us here and I fell in love with it, with the peace and tranquillity," Mr Cohen said.
Until about 10 years ago, Mr Cohen made his living as a news photographer, before making enough money to plant grapes in a valley behind his home. Now called the Tanya Winery, named after one of his eight children, Mr Cohen agrees with his father-in-law that a Palestinian state will not eventuate any time soon. "But I believe we need to pursue peace. Kadima has the right approach for this," he said.
..."If this land here became part of a Palestinian state, I would be prepared to move back into Israel, and start again from scratch. If that is what it will take for peace, then I will do it," Mr Cohen said.
...Uriya Cohen...does not even recognise the name West Bank, refer to the 5600-square-kilometre area by the ancient biblical names of Judea and Samaria.
"This is the land that God gave us thousands of years ago and now we are back and we are not leaving," he said...[and] strongly believes in the Jews' biblical right to the land of the West Bank. "Just open the gates to Jordan and let all the Palestinians out. That is where they belong, not here."
Would he ever agree to a Palestinian state along the lines proposed by Mr Olmert?
"Absolutely not. Never. It is never going to happen. No one will ever take my home from me. If anyone does, I will be prepared to fight for it."
Mr Feldman admonishes his grandson for his extreme views - "he's young, he'll change his views as he gets older" - but at the same time says he feels envious of Uriya's certainty...
..."This [the West Bank] is too small a place to have another country, it's too difficult," Yoram Cohen said. "It's probably not much bigger than Melbourne. I think the only way to solve this is that we have to work out a way we can all live with each other."