Editorial: Elections in Israel, the key point for the Palestinians?

 

Today’s elections in Israel may be the real downfall for the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister after more than 13 years in power. But what does the elections in Israel really mean for the Palestinian population? Can the Palestinian people, after more than 70 years under occupation, glimpse a minimum of hope?

 

 

September, 2019

Netanyahu’s fierce supporters claim that he has led the country to progress, hiding his corruption scandals under the hat, while his detractors say that he has frustrated hopes for peace with the Palestinians, he has shattered society by attacking the Palestinian minority in the 48, and he has filled his pockets and those of his family with numerous scandals of misappropriation of public money.

However, the long-serving leader may be coming to an end. After 5 months of political crisis, in these second elections, Israeli society wonders if it is still able to continue governing in a coalition.

Religion and social policies are being the sword of Damocles in these elections, but neither Gaza nor the Occupation are. And this is the reality, bearing in mind that Israel’s conglomerate of political parties – whether right-wing, centre-left, social democrats or Labour – respond, for the most part, to the bastion of the creation of the Jewish state: Zionism.

But Palestine is always used for Israeli electoral revenue, even though once seated in the seats of the Knesset -the Israeli Parliament- nothing changes in the short, medium or long term. Thus, in the middle of the electoral campaign Netanyahu promised, in case of victory, to annex 30% of the occupied West Bank, and more specifically the Jordan Valley, an area rich in natural resources and a key point to continue the Zionist dream of the Jerusalem Plan, – to annex the whole territory from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. Not satisfied with this, he affirmed that his victory would give “Israeli sovereignty over all the settlements” (which in the last year have increased by 28%), all of them illegal in the eyes of the International Community.

But the Hebrew state is an expert in swimming against international legality and respect for International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. Its eternal ally, the United States, will support Israel no matter who is in the government, and with that trick, you don’t play. And throughout this electoral film, the White House has already made public its idea for peace or “Plan of the Century” that would basically consist of an economic outlay in exchange for renouncing the creation of a future Palestinian state. Another agony for Palestinian political parties.

 


Religion and social policies are being the sword of Damocles in
these elections, but neither Gaza nor the Occupation are.

 

Hope can, however, come from the Palestinian population with Israeli citizenship who can go to the polls today. The leaders of the Arab Joint List, various Arab parties in coalition for these elections, call on Palestinian citizens of the 48 territories to vote. The buses circulating through the Palestinian communities of Galilee are full of slogans: “It’s time to vote. Ayman Odeh, leader of the only party made up of Israelis and Palestinians, and the largest representative of about 1.7 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, – let’s not forget that the Palestinian population in Israel accounts for 21%, not counting the Palestinians of Jerusalem, who only have a residence permit and who, therefore, are denied the right to vote – is overflowing with optimism encouraging the vote and assuring that if they reach the 65% of the Palestinian population that goes to the polls today, they will end up with the extreme right. The Arab Joint List is the third force in Parliament.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall, the Palestinians of the West Bank will not watch television perplexed today. Their daily lives continue to be controlled to the millimeter by the occupying forces. The checkpoints to go to class, to work… Permits denied to go to Jerusalem to treat cancer, to take a university entrance exam, to visit that other part of his family that was simply left on the other side. The daily life in the West Bank is marked by military incursions, arbitrary arrests, the daily and almost perpetual violence of the settlers. The Palestinians resignedly observe the appointment at the polls.

The Israeli prime minister has promised to make all illegal settlements in the
West Bank, and more specifically in Hebron, an official part of Israel. Photo: Novact. HEBRON.

 

And a little further… Gaza, with more than 10 years under an illegal blockade that keeps its more than two million inhabitants in a permanent humanitarian crisis. The eternal currency to make money in electoral campaigns: Gaza, “where anything goes”. During his campaign, the leader of the Likud, said that “the launching of rockets from Gaza is making another war inevitable”. He has already passed sentence.


While everything is negotiated at polling stations and on roadmaps to show
to the international community, the occupation continues to annex Palestinian land
and displace its population illegally and in contravention of United Nations resolutions.

 

The latest polls show that Netanyahu’s Likud party faces the opposition alliance Blue and White, led by its former military chief Benny Gantz. This means that whoever wins the elections will have to make deals with smaller parties to secure a majority in the Knesset and form government, which they failed to do in last April’s elections. Three former chiefs of the army are leading the electoral alliance situated in the centre, to oust Netanyahu, one of them Benny Gantz, who less than five years ago led the war in Gaza, claiming the lives of more than 2,000 Palestinians.

And among the military is the game. Whatever happens, Israel continues to maintain its status quo policy – while everything is negotiated at polling stations and on roadmaps to show to the international community – the occupation continues to annex Palestinian land and displace its population illegally and in contravention of United Nations resolutions. In 2018 alone, according to data released by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank increased by 28%. According to the official Palestinian news agency, from January to October 2018, 908 Palestinian minors were arrested and 270 remain in Israeli detention centers. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, published in its report on human rights violations in Palestine that 302 Palestinians, 242 of them civilians, were killed last year by the Israeli army and settlers, and more than 10,731 Palestinians were injured.

Photo: Novact. GAZA