Power is up for grabs in Israel – but does anyone except Netanyahu want it?

One such casualty might be the left-wing Zionist party Meretz, whose liberal, secular European middle-class voters are a vanishing minority. Despite this, Meretz and the centre-left Labor Party have refused to make an election alliance, fearing the loss of their distinct identities. Similarly, the nationalist religious right is split between the economically neoliberal Yamina and the far-right, anti-LGBT Hatzionut Hadatit.

Even the Joint List, an alliance of Arab-majority parties referred to pejoratively as “the Arab list” by racist Israeli politicians, has split. Ra’am, an Islamic party, refuses to be associated with the left and will not rule out supporting Netanyahu. Ironically, the split has actually demonstrated that Palestinian citizens of Israel do not vote as a block and have as much variety to their opinions as Jewish citizens.

The disintegration of Israeli politics has occurred as a result of decades of racism and discrimination, which have undermined Zionism’s collectivist-nationalist vision. When Israel’s largest human rights organization, B’tselem, published a report in January explaining that it was legitimate to describe Israel as an apartheid state, because of discrimination against Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel as well as rights denied to Palestinians in territories under Israel’s de facto control, the report was received mostly with indifference. Israelis know that there are no equal rights to all citizens in a so-called “Jewish state.”

Even parties on the left, as well as those in the Joint List, are focused less on promoting a democratic and inclusive vision for Israel, and more on carving out a niche to protect the remaining privileges of their constituents.

Issues ignored

In this context, it is not surprising that global and regional developments are hardly addressed. The Palestinians in the West Bank, and more so in Gaza, have been almost completely forgotten. The fact that upcoming Palestinian national elections, to be held in three stages between May and August, could undermine Israel’s “divide and conquer” strategy and create a legitimate leadership for Palestinians under Israeli occupation, does not seem to worry any of the candidates. They remain silent about what their plans for responding to a unified Palestinian leadership would be.

Similarly, candidates do not discuss the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS), which supports Palestinian rights; a special ministry set up to counter BDS is even set to be dissolved. An ongoing ecological disaster along Israel’s coast, most likely caused by the botched sabotage of a tanker delivering Iranian oil to Syria, has been subject to an official gag order.

Not even the decision of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in the occupied territories has made a dent on the election campaign. Only one politician has mentioned that he might find himself facing charges in the Hague. The Israeli government pays for ads claiming that the ICC has no jurisdiction, but no political party has set out its plan for a legal defence.

Israel has recently made unprecedented peace agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, but these are only referred to by Netanyahu’s campaign. Most parties prefer to talk about the economic impact of COVID-19, the unemployment crisis and the bankruptcy of thousands of small businesses.

Whatever the result, Israel’s next government will face an unenviable situation: a growing global boycott, a more unified Palestinian resistance, a war crimes investigation and a devastated economy, made worse by two years of populist election-driven spending. Judging by the insipid campaign, it appears that nobody but Netanyahu really wants the responsibility.

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Shir Hever | Radio Free (2021-12-03T19:42:03+00:00) » Power is up for grabs in Israel – but does anyone except Netanyahu want it?. Retrieved from https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/18/power-is-up-for-grabs-in-israel-but-does-anyone-except-netanyahu-want-it/.
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" » Power is up for grabs in Israel – but does anyone except Netanyahu want it?." Shir Hever | Radio Free - Thursday March 18, 2021, https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/18/power-is-up-for-grabs-in-israel-but-does-anyone-except-netanyahu-want-it/
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» Power is up for grabs in Israel – but does anyone except Netanyahu want it? | Shir Hever | Radio Free | https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/18/power-is-up-for-grabs-in-israel-but-does-anyone-except-netanyahu-want-it/ | 2021-12-03T19:42:03+00:00
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