On November 1, after four years of deadlock, Benjamin Netanyahu won the Israeli elections by inking a deal with the fascist Religious Zionism party and forming an alliance with far-right politicians Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.
Now Itamar Ben Gvir is poised to become head of the brand new National Security Ministry, a planned portfolio that will include overseeing the police and Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
Ben-Gvir is reviled and renowned for his anti-Palestinian speeches and stunts, including brandishing a pistol and encouraging police to open fire on Palestinian stone-throwers in a tense Jerusalem neighborhood. Before he became a lawyer, he was convicted of offenses that include inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization.
In his new role, he would oversee the police, among other things, enabling him to implement some of the hard-line policies against the Palestinians he has advocated for years.
The last four years of deadlock have basically been a contest between right-wing Zionists and more left Zionists. A just and equitable solution for Palestine has long since disappeared from the top of the agenda. Now this election promises a future that we dare not imagine.
Understanding the vote
“A strange thing happened last Tuesday. As the election results came in, two things became clear. One, Netanyahu’s rightist-religious bloc had won a sweeping, unassailable victory. Two, it had done so without fundamentally changing the actual numbers of votes.” Haviv Reting Gur of theTimes of Israel writes.
According to analysts, Netanyahu’s 64-seat majority is almost entirely a function of the electoral threshold, which caused the disappearance of well over a quarter-million votes below the cutoff.
It was feared that many of the Palestinians who are eligible to vote in Israeli Knesset elections would choose not to. Before the election, polls predicted no more than 39 per cent of Palestinians who have the right to vote in Israel would show up at the polls. To be clear, Palestinians have no problem voting – in municipal elections, turnout is regularly higher than 90 percent – but the level of anger and disillusionment with the Knesset is high.
The threat posed by Netanyahu’s agreement with Ben-Gvir, actually galvanized 55 percent of Palestinians eligible to vote to turnout to the polls.
However, it did not stop the monstrous result. Now Ben-Gvir is head of National Security and the impact on Palestinians promises to be devastating. Governments around the world made a few cautionary statements but now are having receptions for him.
Do not sit and watch helplessly or turn away as things get worse and worse for Palestinians. Here are some campaigns to support at the moment and demand justice.
Keep standing against the demolitions: Since 2009, over 13,000 Palestinians have had their homes demolished in the West Bank alone. Ameer Makhoul, who has worked with housing rights for Palestinians for decades estimates that Palestinian citizens of Israel in particular are facing home demolition policies which may affect 60,000 residences.
At the end of November 2022, Israeli forces destroyed a school in Masafar Yatta. Masafer Yatta, which falls in Area C, is a region south of Hebron, where some eight villages, home to more than 1,200 Palestinians, including 500 children, are facing imminent forced displacement by Israeli authorities based on a May 2022 ruling by Israel’s High Court of Justice. The Israeli Army has argued that the Palestinians are living in an Israeli army “firing zone”. Meanwhile people of Jewish descent have been allowed to move into the area and have been abusing the Palestinian residents. See the videos and take action on the #SaveMasaferYatta campaign.
The most recent report on demolitions from the UN Office on the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs details.
Israel is poised to arrest leaders of Palestinian Civil Society organizations: In the early morning of August 18, 2022 Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) raided the offices of six respected Palestinian human rights organisations.
The organisations were shut down after the raids and now operate under constant threat of being arrested. These organisations provide legal aid and confidential information was stolen from them.
Al Haq, Addameer, Defense for Children International, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees continue to face attacks but are battling on and working to defend the rights of Palestinians. Support them because they are needed more than ever.
Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel: The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law. Find out which countries continue to invest in Israel and stop supporting them and build campaigns to build the BDS movement. There needs to be economic pressure to change systemic discrimination and apartheid policies.
Watch for the escalation of violence by Israeli settler gangs: Ben-Gvir promised to settle “Judea and Samaria”, referring to the West Bank. Promises like this will further ignite tensions between these new resistance groups in the West Bank and the right-wing settlers, many of whom come from the Haredi communities.
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