News Release

Israel’s Election: Anti-Palestinian While Avoiding Occupation

From left to right: Isaac Herzog, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ayman Odeh and Moshe Kahlon

AP is reporting: “With his political future in question, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday made a list-ditch appeal to hard-liners as the country went to the polls in a tight parliamentary election, saying that high Arab voter turnout was endangering his right wing party’s dominance. … Netanyahu’s comments toward Israeli Arab voters were remarkable because they targeted Israeli citizens, and they quickly attracted accusations of racism. Israel’s Arabs, who make up 20 percent of the population, have long complained of discrimination. A new joint list of Arab parties, unifying four factions, has energized Arab voters and is poised to make big gains in the race.”

Journalist Jonathan Cook reports from Nazareth on the Israeli election: “In one sense, everything is up for grabs: this election could result either in another right-wing government led by Benjamin Netanyahu or in victory for a coalition of centrist parties distinguished chiefly by their hostility towards Mr. Netanyahu.

“Whatever the outcome, one thing is certain: the next government will be no more willing or able to make peace with the Palestinians than its recent predecessors. …

“The anti-Arab tenor of the campaign, however, has not been confined to the occupied territories. In the center of the right’s sights have been the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in Israel and have citizenship. …

“[Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman plumbed new depths last week by calling for disloyal members of the Palestinian minority to be beheaded. With his usual immunity to paradox, he called at the same time for a Palestinian leader in Israel to be stripped of citizenship for comparing Israel’s behavior to that of ISIL.”

Mehager is Hebrew media coordinator for Adalah — The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. Among the groups recent news releases: “Elections Committee refuses to provide public transportation on Election Day to Bedouin voters in unrecognized villages.” For background on this issue, see the article “How many cars does it take for a Bedouin village to vote?

See also the group’s news release: “Adalah demands criminal investigation of Avigdor Lieberman for racist speech.”

See also their statement: “Zoabi’s Case: An Injustice the Court Did Not Fix,” about attempts to exclude Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament from elections. The piece states: “In an 8-1 ruling, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Central Elections Committee (CEC) to disqualify Arab MK [member of the Knesset] Haneen Zoabi from the upcoming general elections. But although this ruling is important, it is not enough to reverse the damage already done to the rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

“The disqualification of Arab parties and candidates has become a predictable feature of every Israeli election for the past decade, and is part of the state’s wider attempts to repress political activism by Palestinian citizens. The CEC’s decision against MK Zoabi thus came as no surprise, nor did the committee members’ constant heckling and incitement during her speech in defense of her right to represent the Palestinian minority in the Knesset.”

Background: See “MK Bishara’s Political Speeches Case: Parliamentary Immunity is a Per Se Matter of Law” about the case of Azmi Bishara who was stripped of his parliamentary immunity and left Israel.