The next Israeli elections: where did the occupation go? | Middle East News
On March 23, Israel will hold parliamentary elections for the fourth time in two years. With less than a week before the election, experts are still hesitant to predict its outcome, as all polls point to a close race between supporters of incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his opponents.
The failure of one of the centrist or left-wing parties, such as Blue and White or Meretz, to cross the 3.25% electoral threshold could leave Netanyahu in power. The failure of Bezalel Smotrich’s far-right Zionist religious party to cross the threshold, meanwhile, would likely deprive Netanyahu of a majority in the Knesset and end his 12-year reign.
While it is indeed difficult to predict the exact makeup of the next Israeli Knesset, the electoral platforms and campaigns of the main parties participating in the race reveal a lot about the troubling direction in which Israeli society is heading.
Whether Netanyahu’s supporters or his opponents manage to secure a parliamentary majority, the result will be a coalition government. If no electoral bloc manages to secure the 61-seat majority in parliament it needs to form a government, voters will be dragged to polling stations for the fifth time in the coming months.
Together, Israel’s five political right-wing parties – Netanyahu’s Likud, Gideon Saar’s New Hope, Naftali Bennett’s Yamina, Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu, and Smotrich’s religious Zionism – vote 59-60 seats, with 15-16 seats planned for the ultra-Orthodox. parties which traditionally ally with the law.
While these parties have remarkably different attitudes towards Netanyahu, there are no discernible differences between them on issues that really matter – the occupation and the state of Israeli democracy.
In their election campaigns, these parties have almost completely ignored the most fundamental problems facing Israel today. In fact, even most centrist and leftist parties have chosen to sweep these issues under the rug in their efforts to broaden their base and oust Netanyahu from power.
Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, its alleged violations of human rights and international law, and questions about the legitimacy of its democracy are not high on the agenda of any political party, for it is not are not major concerns for an overwhelming majority of Israeli voters.
The reactions of prominent Israeli politicians to the recent decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to give the green light to an investigation into Israel’s alleged war crimes in the occupied territories and settlements clearly demonstrated the Israeli attitude. with regard to these matters.
Like Netanyahu, Liberman, Bennett and Smotrich condemned the court and accused it of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel. New Hope party chairman Saar, meanwhile, blasted the “shameful” decision to investigate “the world’s most moral army”.
And the leaders of the right-wing parties were not the only ones to have treated the court ruling as an opportunity to defend the policies of occupation and settlement of Israel. The leader of the Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid, who presents himself as the head of the moderate center, called the move “shameful anti-Semitism”, adding that he was “proud of the IDF soldiers and officers who defend us against the threat. terrorism ”. Defense Minister Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White alliance campaigns for centrist votes, was equally fierce, saying the court lacked jurisdiction to authorize such an investigation and claiming the Israeli legal system had proven to repeatedly its jurisdiction in dealing with violations by the military. . Even the leader of the Labor Party, Merav Michaeli, has defended the Israeli army and the judiciary.
The Meretz was the only Zionist party whose leader Nitzan Horowitz rejected criticism from the ICC, saying he had valid reasons for his decision. However, the Meretz is hanging by a thread, with its 150,000 voters estimated barely enough to push it above the electoral threshold. This pool of voters also represents, more or less, all Israeli Jews concerned about the treatment that Israel has reserved for the Palestinians living under its rule and the total disappearance of notions such as “peace”, “human rights” and the “conflict resolution” of the Israeli discourse.
In a study in Hebrew recently published by Molad: The Center for the Renewal of Israel Democracy, Israeli psychology professors Daniel Bar-Tal and Amiram Raviv attempted to explain the reasons for the support of Israeli society – and therefore of the classes. Israeli policies – for the occupation and the state’s violent policies towards the Palestinians.
The two psychologists argued that as a result of long-term indoctrination, Israeli Jews have accepted as fact a narrative in which all Arabs are inherently violent, untrustworthy and determined to destroy Israel. In the same narrative, Israeli Jews are presented as a moral people whose efforts to achieve lasting peace are thwarted by their hawkish neighbors.
According to Bar-Tal and Raviv, because of this narrative that has been hammered into their minds for decades, Israeli Jews believe it is they who are being attacked by Palestinians. Therefore, they believe that in order to avoid a repeat of the Holocaust, they must be strong, united and ready to do whatever is necessary, including turning a blind eye to human rights and violations of international law. by their state.
Renowned Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky once wrote that a conflict ends when a society realizes that the price it will pay for a peace deal is less than the cost of the ongoing conflict.
Unfortunately, as evidenced by the reluctance of Israeli political parties to discuss the occupation and its consequences in their election campaigns, Israeli society has yet to achieve this awareness.
So who wins the next Israeli elections and forms their next government is of little importance when it comes to the most fundamental issues facing not only Israeli society, but also the Palestinian people who have lived under occupation ever since. almost 54 years old. For lovers of peace and democracy, after March 23, with or without Netanyahu, it will be business as usual.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.