25 Oct, 2022
Behind the different candidates and parties vying for power in the Israeli election is a uniting agenda to deny Palestinians their freedom and entrench the occupation. Successive elections over the years are testament to this, writes Ali Adam.
The Israelis are set to go to the polls on November 1st for the fifth time in three years. The desire to get rid of Israel’s longest-serving PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, who’s facing corruption charges and has destabilised the political system over the past few years, proved only temporarily successful. Now, Netanyahu is set to make a comeback, as rival parties continue to fail to form a stable government without him.
One thing that is known about the next election, however, is that no matter who wins, nothing will change for Palestinians.
All of the attempts to get rid of Netanyahu over the past few years were motivated by personal vendettas against him, objections to his corruption, or personal ambitions for other Israeli politicians. None of them were motivated to challenge his policies towards the conflict with the Palestinians, though. In fact, when it comes to Palestinian human rights, Netanyahu’s political rivals are carbon copies of him.
Over the past decade, an erroneous narrative developed that Israel’s problem is the right-wing coalition and Netanyahu in particular. While Netanyahu, certainly, did more than any Israeli leader to colonise more Palestinian space with settlements and end any chances for a Palestinian state, the reality remains that his stance towards the Palestinians represents the mainstream in Israel, not just the right-wing.
“Mainstream Israeli parties, while they may call themselves different names, have the same end game: entrenching the occupation and solidifying the structure of oppression against the Palestinians”
This is why for Palestinians the actual outcome of who wins the Israeli elections doesn’t matter. Mainstream Israeli parties, while they may call themselves different names, have the same end game: entrenching the occupation and solidifying the structure of oppression against the Palestinians. Successive elections over the decades have brought different parties but same results.
Palestinians have already seen what things were like before Netanyahu, and in the past few months, have sampled what the leadership of centrist leaders like Yair Lapid, the current Israeli PM, and Benny Gantz, the defence minister, will be like.
Lapid, the leader of the largest liberal political party Yesh Atid, occasionally promotes himself as the anti-Netanyahu and is favored by the West as the moderate. Gantz, who’s the leader of the National Unity party, is also considered a moderate. However, their actions in just the few months that they’ve been ruling were very similar to Netanyahu, if not worse.
In August, Israel, advanced a settlements plan to build 1,400 housing units in East Jerusalem, and last month another plan was advanced to build 700 settlement units in the city, as part of a new settlement called Givat Shaked, among others.
These plans are lethal for the already-eroding prospects of the two-state solution. The plans will prevent Palestinian continuity between East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which will deal a severe blow to the possibility of a viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Those settlements have long been deemed red lines by the international community due to its impact on the possibility of the resolution of the conflict, and yet they’ve been advanced under Lapid’s, and Gantz’s watch, and with their blessing.
Furthermore, daily violence of the occupation against Palestinians increased under their watch, as the West bank, over the past few months, witnessed rampant violent raids on Palestinian homes, excessive use of force, shoot-to-kill policies, and mass incarceration campaigns, all of which is leading to an aggressively escalating situation.
In another extremely dangerous escalation, Israel has, in the past few months, also repeatedly allowed Israeli settlers to pray and perform Jewish rituals in Al-Aqsa compound in violation of the status quo, in a severe provocation to the Palestinians. These violations against the Muslims 3rd holiest site are the shortest and most effective way to increase tensions.
In August, Lapid and Gantz also launched an unprovoked two-day military assault on the Gaza Strip that killed 44 and injured more than 350 Palestinians, and destroyed hundreds of Palestinian homes. It’s likely they initiated this military operation for political capital, hoping to improve their standing ahead of this upcoming election.
So, on the whole, looking at Israel’s policies under Lapid and Gantz’s watch, they’re no different from Netanyahu’s and the right-wing in their actions and beliefs when it comes to subjugating the Palestinian people, escalating the conflict, and cementing the occupation.
Palestinians have told this reality to the West for years. Mainstream Israeli parties don’t believe in giving the Palestinian people their basic rights, nor do they believe in the dignity, freedom, or equality of the Palestinian people. Anyone who does is immediately ostracised to the margins of Israeli politics.
Israel mainstream parties also uniformly believe in maintaining the occupation, and preventing any chances for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state.
“The international community must listen to what Palestinians have been saying for decades about the lack of any mainstream Israeli official or party that believes in peace, freedom or equality”
Netanyahu himself pointed this out in 2017, saying that “contrary to what people think”, there’s actually an “almost universal consensus” in Israel with regards to how to deal with Palestinians.
Netanyahu, traced back the parameters of this consensus to Yitzhaq Rabin, former Israel PM and creator of the Oslo accords, who outlined these parameters in his last speech in the Knesset in 1995.
The consensus parameters are the following: Jerusalem must remain undivided, Israel must maintain the occupation of the Jordan valley, major settlement blocs must be annexed and maintained, and there must be no sovereignty in the land between the sea and the river other than Israel’s.
According to these parameters, what’s left for the Palestinians are isolated Bantustans in the West Bank with no control over borders, no freedom, and no sovereignty. That’s the model that mainstream Israeli politicians and political parties uniformly believe in, and that’s the model they’ve been working towards over the past few decades.
That model is shared by all of Israel’s mainstream parties including Lapid’s Yesh Atid, and Gantz’s National Unity party, who are contending for this upcoming election.
The only conclusion is that mainstream Israeli parties are nearly identical when it comes to their main policies towards Palestinians. They’re on board with the continued denial of Palestinian rights, brutal blockade against Gaza, the daily violence against Palestinians in the West bank, settlements’ expansion, homes’ demolitions, and the list goes on.
The international community must listen to what Palestinians have been saying for decades about the lack of any mainstream Israeli official or party that believes in peace, freedom or equality.
The only way a radical shift in the Israeli political arena can happen is from an outside force – that’s why it’s paramount that the international community, led by the US and the EU, starts to hold Israel accountable for its continued violations of Palestinians rights. Otherwise, Israel will continue in this direction and will become more and more extreme as has happened over the past years.
Ali Adam is a journalist and researcher whose work focuses on issues linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Follow him on Twitter @_AliAdam_
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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.