Israeli elections: No clear winner

Israeli elections: No clear winner
Comment: Netanyahu is courting the right-wing in Israel in hope of winning the up-coming elections. Palestinians need to prepare for whatever comes next.
4 min read
14 Mar, 2015
Netanyahu campaigning for the elections [AFP]
With Israeli elections scheduled for 17 March fast approaching, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's policies towards the Palestinian issue, which he intends to implement should he win a new term, are crystalising.

On 8 March, Netanyahu announced there would be no withdrawal from the West Bank and no concessions made to the Palestinians. This means the so-called negotiations are a completely futile exercise.

Furthermore, Netanyahu's 2009 Bar-Ilan speech in which he announced support for a Palestinian state no longer stands. According to a statement by the Likud party campaign "the Bar-Ilan speech is null and void" and "simply irrelevant".

(As soon as that statement was made, Netanyahu's office rushed to deny the statement and claim that the Israeli prime minister meant to say Israel would not withdraw from any territory as "any territory that is given will be seized by radical Islam as happened in Gaza and south Lebanon". This rushed clarification of Netanyahu's position reflects his attempt to appeal to hardline voters on the right, especially settlers, while maintaining the claim that Israel seeks to achieve a peace with Palestinians.)

The election battle between Netanyahu's Likud and the coalition led by the Israeli Labour party does not have a guaranteed outcome, which means Netanyahu will try to win over voters that are more right-wing than he is, if possible. This is especially the case since he has lost the support of many centrists on the back of his Congress speech and his challenge to US president Barak Obama.
     Netanyahu's attacks on Obama have caused widespread discontent in the Democratic Party.

There is a belief that Netanyahu's Congress speech has resulted in Israel losing the support or the semi-unanimous approval it had enjoyed in the US. Despite the standing ovations he received, Netanyahu's attacks on Obama have caused widespread discontent in the Democratic Party, which has grown among US Jews, especially students and intellectuals.

Naturally, one cannot predict the outcome of the upcoming Israeli elections. The polls suggest it will be a close-run thing. In that case, it is likely the next Israeli government will be formed by a wide-ranging coalition that includes far-right parties that refuse any comprehensive and just peace settlement. Therefore, it is imperative that the Palestinian government puts a strategy in place to face the next Israeli government, whether it is Netanyahu or someone else at the helm.

This strategy should affirm the fixed legitimate demands of the Palestinian people and should reflect national unity as the main reference point for the Palestinian resistance and its priorities. Furthermore, divisions among Palestinian factions should not translate into differences. Palestinians require a national political authority that can tolerate a multiplicity of opinion but prevent divisions. The current stage in the Palestinian struggle requires that legitimacy is restored to the Palestinian leadershi, which can only happen with unity of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.

This unity should replace the pluralism we currently witness, which entrenches divisions at a time when the Palestinian people need unity. Not only unity between the West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, but one that affirms the right of return for Palestinian refugees and for Palestinians in Israel to have full civil rights, especially as they have unified their election lists despite the obstacles, affirming their rootedness in their land.

Palestine remains the compass, more than ever before and in the middle of the current state of the Arab nation. Palestine is the guarantee through which we can regain what we have lost due to our current divisions and which has stripped us of our ability to determine our fate. Palestine was the hardest commitment for Arab masses to make and it is high time we returned to this commitment and unify the Palestinian leadership in a manner that inspires and leads the Arab vanguards against Zionist goals.

The Palestinian leadership needs to be more effective by committing to political and non-violent resistance and armed resistance where necessary, for it to make Arab masses renew their commitment to Palestine.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.