Palestine Update 287
Israel’s election lacked democratic grounds
Seraj Assi, an Arab citizen of Israel and a student of Middle East History observes, that while Israel defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state”, this claim is an oxymoron, reflected in a political system that discriminates against its Palestinian minority and strips Arab citizens of many of the national and civil rights accorded to Jews. How can a State that disenfranchises its Arab Palestinians – more than 20% of the country’s population – by designating them as “second-class citizens” claim to have any democratic credentials? Indeed, if Israel is a democracy only for its Jewish citizens, how can it be a democracy at all?
It is this anomaly that makes each Israeli election incomplete. Elections come and go as often as governments rise and fall, in the main, because Israel occupies more than half of the people in the lands it oversees. Israel’s rulers have never hesitated to assert that it is “the nation-state of the Jewish people, and the Jewish people only.” Israel’s does not as much as offer the Palestinians dignity by denying them democratic rights.
This has been and will continue to be the undoing of the State of Israel. Before the elections, Netanyahu tried to disqualify the Joint List, the Arab parties’ alliance, from running in the election. He needlessly charged them with allegations of sustaining terrorism and conspiring to destroy Israel from within. In order to instill fear in the Israeli voter, Netanyahu went to the extent of warning Jewish voters that Arabs want to destroy all Jews – women, children and men. This actually prompted Facebook to suspend Netanyahu’s official account for violating hate speech rules.
Israel’s democracy is too fragile to be permanent. It will come apart at the seams unless it makes radical changes in the political structure. It must put universal suffrage in place. Occupation and democracy are harsh contradictions and can never co-exist under a restricted system. For now, Palestinian Arabs deem their Israeli citizenship as mere political imagery. They are right to reject Israel’s political system as a ‘façade democracy’.
Deal of the century to be significantly delayed
In the weeks before the elections, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other senior officials estimated that the so-called “Deal of the Century”, as the US peace plan for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has come to be known, will be published very close to Election Day.
The results of the election and the uncertainty they have created in Israel will cause a significant delay in the publication of the plan. “There is a different situation here and there may be a fundamentally different government than the one we have been working with in recent years. There is also no certainty that the Prime Minister will be the same person who is currently in office. Therefore, further examination of the situation will be required and the publication of the peace plan will be significantly delayed,” said the senior official.
Israeli Palestinian parties back Gantz for PM and break precedent
Israeli Palestinian political parties broke with longstanding precedent on Sunday and endorsed ex-military chief Benny Gantz for prime minister following last week’s elections, seeking to keep the president from asking incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government. The dramatic move came after the mainly Palestinian Joint List alliance won 13 seats in Tuesday’s polls, making them the third-largest force in the 120-seat parliament.
Its support does not mean the Joint List will sit in the governing coalition, but its backing gives Gantz’s centre-left bloc 57 seats, compared with Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc of 55. President Reuven Rivlin has begun consultations with party leaders to decide which candidate he will choose to give the mandate to attempt to form a governing coalition. He will announce his choice on Wednesday, after the Central Elections Committee confirms the final results.
David vs. Goliath in The Hague: Palestinian suing Gantz for War Crimes
Gaza-born Dutch citizen, who submitted a civil suit against Benny Gantz and Amir Eshel for the death of 6 family members in 2014, invoked the biblical story before the court David stood and flung his words. Goliath (played here by Benny Gantz) was not at the scene, making do with a team of two Dutch lawyers (backed up by legal opinions from three additional lawyers). That too happened on September 17, Election Day in Israel, but in a district court in The Hague, Netherlands. Ismail Ziada, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip and a naturalized Dutch citizen, was permitted to submit a statement, not as a lawyer but as a person born in 1975 into the Israeli occupation. It was Ziada who invoked the biblical story of David and Goliath to describe his life and his lawsuit against the former chief of staff and the former Israel Air Force commander Amir Eshel.
Young Palestinian entrepreneurs: Business without borders
Wall, fences and checkpoints have become a way of life in the West Bank. But now innovative startups are overcoming borders and connecting people throughout the area with the help of digitization.
More and more young people in the West Bank see technology and innovation as an opportunity to create jobs and secure a livelihood. “There is no limitation for innovation. We believe the world is a small village and we can reach anybody online,” emphasizes Amani Abu Tair, founder and CEO of Wazza.Inc in Jerusalem. Abu Tair, like over 20% of Palestinian founders, is a woman. And she has received multiple awards, including “Best Innovator of Palestinian Innovation and Creativity.” Wazza is a platform that uses artificial intelligence to help students learn. “We entrepreneurs from Palestine are working hard to create our future,” she says.
However, her company cannot overcome physical borders. Simply moving around can be hard. It’s even difficult to get from Jerusalem to Ramallah because of so many checkpoints. “But I don’t need to cross the borders in the digital world,” Abu Tair says.
Israel-US discuss best timing to launch Middle East Peace plan
“Jason Greenblatt will hold talks with various parties on US-Israel relations, regional dynamics and the US government’s peace efforts,” the US embassy in Israel said. Talks might have tackled the best timing to launch the US peace plan to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Greenblatt had arrived in Israel on Thursday on a visit believed to be aimed at verifying whether the time has come to announce the deal of the century, and the best time to release it, either during coalition negotiations or once the government is formed.It is also suggested that Greenblatt’s current visit is also aimed at influencing the political system in Israel and making sure the deal of the century will be part of the consultations to form the next government. The US envoy will also try to pave the way for the deal and try to reduce objections. The election’s results in Israel, in which Netanyahu suffered a defeat, seem to have overshadowed the US peace plan.