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Palestinian activist explains the Israeli elections

Bil’in protest leader Abdullah Abu-Rahme: If Israelis must decide between Labor and Likud, they might as well just vote for Liberman instead.

Bi'lin Palestinian popular resistance leader Abdullah Abu Rahme (Activestills)

Bi’lin Palestinian popular resistance leader Abdullah Abu Rahme (Activestills)

The residents of the West Bank village Bil’in are in close contact with the Israeli state. For the past ten years, they have been waging a popular struggle against the separation barrier that has cut them off from most of their land, while withstanding heavy oppression from the army, including arrests, tear gas, raids on the village, and more. As non-Jewish subjects of military rule in the occupied territories, the residents of Bil’in have no right to vote in the elections, and thus cannot decide who will make the up the next government that will decide their fate. However, some of them know very well who they would like to see in the Knesset.

“We hope that the Joint List succeeds, and that it will be the third largest party in the Knesset. It is simply wonderful that the Arab factions are running together,” Abdullah Abu Rahmah, a central organizer of Bil’in’s nonviolent protests, told +972. “I also hope that Meretz succeeds, despite the fact that they are losing their strength. I hope that the Palestinians on the ‘inside’ [Palestinian citizens of Israel, H.M.] go out and vote, because anyone who does not vote only strengthens the right.”

Abu Rahmah, who was recognized by the European Union as a Human Rights Defender, was recently levied a fine and a suspended sentence after being convicted last October of interfering with the work of a soldier for an incident in May 2012, when he stood in front of a bulldozer that was clearing land to build the separation barrier near Ramallah.

“Today there are over 600,000 settlers, and their influence on Israeli politics is only growing,” says Abu Rahmah, “The answer to this is the Joint List and Meretz, who I hope will get seven seats so that Gaby Lasky is elected.” Lasky is a human rights attorney who has worked on many cases pertaining to Palestinian and Israeli anti-occupation activists, including that of Abu Rahmah. “It is true that Lasky supports us as an attorney, but we need her in the Knesset alongside Dov Khenin.”

“It is necessary to have a large bloc of leftists and Arabs. And yet, if Labor wins… it won’t be so good. There is no real difference between Labor and Likud, in this sense we much prefer Likud. Labor has better relations with the international community, but they are no different when it comes to policies. They do not promote peace, they build settlements, they build walls and they go to war. And yet they get legitimacy from the world. We might as well have Liberman, who only damages Israel’s international relations. Mahmoud Abbas has been gaining more support than Netanyahu one the past few years, and if Herzog or Livni win, it will only delay the necessary pressure on Israel.”

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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    1. Pedro X

      “the residents of Bil’in have no right to vote in the elections, and thus cannot decide who will make the up the next government that will decide their fate.”

      The residents of Bil’in have a right to vote in Palestinian elections. Palestinian politicians decide the Palestinian people’s fate. Elected Palestinians make decisions which affect Palestinians on all levels. In Gaza the Palestinian people voted for Hamas and terror and war against the Jewish state. As a result the people of Gaza got war and destruction. The people of the West Bank chose a corrupt PA government unwilling to make peace with the Jewish state. The PA coordinates security for itself with Israel while encouraging individual acts of violence and terror against Israelis.

      It is time for Palestinians to take responsibility for their own choices and actions which has put them in the position in which they find themselves.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        What he’s saying is that the fate of the residents of Bil’in is determined by Israel, yet the residents of Bil’in can’t vote in Israeli elections. Yes, they can vote in their own elections, but Israel controls everything in the West Bank. Duh.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Brian

      Abu-Rahme has s strong argument that Livni and Herzog are just cover, that it’s better that Netanyahu own the mess in the territories and the mess economically. Otherwise the Right will just have a field day blaming the Left and saying “if only we were in power things would be different, peace and prosperity would reign….” and Europe will pat Livni and Herzog on the head and busy themselves elsewhere. You break it you own it. And besides as has been discussed in this site there are no real left and right blocs since Rabin was assassinated, they all just collude with each other. Better Netanyahu clearly own it, barring a true transformation.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben Zakkai

        Which is why Netanyahoo may very well form a national unity coalition with Herzog and Bennett, traingulating between them and using Herzog as Peres-Style Fig Leaf #2. Then he won’t have to buy off small parties with expensive gifts. But that’s just speculation.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Robert K

      Maybe it is time Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza demanded formal annexation by Israel, make the de facto a de jure, with full citizen rights and responsibilities.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben Zakkai

        I have thought for years that Palestinians could break the back of the Occupation by demanding the right to vote in Knesset elections, since Israel controls their lives anyway. Such a demand would cast their struggle in a more civil rights or anti-apartheid mold and thus galvanize Western opinion. But Palestinians, by and large, don’t think like Americans or Europeans. (Nor do many Israelis for that matter.) They are spurred to action by their strong connections to land, religion, family and community, but not so much by democratic or abstract-rights-based concepts.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Brian

      Israel needs a new identity to account for waning Zionism

      …Around a quarter of the next Knesset will be “non-Zionist”: the MKs from the Joint List, United Torah Judaism and Shas, and a few MKs from parties like Yahad Ha’am Itanu, not to mention Zouheir Bahloul of Zionist Union. Demographers forecast that this percentage will only increase in the future because half the children in first through third grades are Arab or ultra-Orthodox.
      Many Arabs and Haredim want to feel part of Israeli society, move up in the workforce and improve their economic position. This is clearly the case among Haredim who join the army, or among Arab respondents in a poll published last week in Haaretz, most of whom want the Joint List in a governing coalition….

      Reply to Comment
    5. Johanan

      The people in Bil’in are not allowed to vote in Israeli elections, just as the people in Modi’in cannot vote for Palestinian elections, (in the event that Abu Mazen one day feels like organising them), and nonetheless they’re affected by the PA direct subsidy of terrorism via the Palestinian Law of the Prisoners. They would likely have a say on providing a generous salary to those who would blow them up.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        What? I had to read this several times before I could penetrate the incoherence and figure out what you’re trying to say but not quite succeeding. Here’s my response after taking the considerable time to decipher it:

        The people in Bil’in are not allowed to vote in Israeli elections. They would like to have a say in your providing a generous salary to those who every day occupy their territory illegally and steal their land, their livelihoods, their tax monies, their freedom and their dignity all the while claiming victimhood. And when Palestinian troops occupy Modi’in and kill protesting Jews with tear gas canisters and spray Jews with skunk cannons and raid their homes in the middle of the night and arrest them at will with no legal oversight and charge them with the crime of arranging spent tear gas canisters in poetic arrangements, do call us back. As*h*l*.

        Reply to Comment
        • Johanan

          If I understand correctly you do not see a problem that the PA pays generous direct subsidies to convicted terrorist assassins (with a fair deal of legal oversight), way above the average salary in Palestine and a huge chunk of its EU-funded budget, that amount to a strong economic incentive to murder Jews. None of Israel’s actions, even when distorting the facts to show Israel in the worst possible light (as in your comment) are as insidious.

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            I see lots of problems, pal, on both sides. Get out of the territories. That’s problem # 1 and until you address it everything else is so much talk. The occupation is insidiousness taken to a high, crafty art. Insidiouness par excellence.

            Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        “in the event that Abu Mazen one day feels like organising them”

        You do know that the Palestinian unity government tried to organize them about half a year ago, do you?

        That is until Bibi sabotaged their effort.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Joel Cantor

      Who cares what this non-Israeli says?
      At best, his views are irrelevant. In fact, his perpetual war against Israel’s right to exist is the root of the problems.

      Reply to Comment

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