No Jerusalem, no elections – Democracy and society
No Jerusalem, no elections! This mantra had been reiterated daily by senior Palestinian National Authority (PA) officials, so it was no surprise that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced last Thursday that the Palestinian Legislative Council elections scheduled for May 22 were postponed “until the participation of Jerusalem and its people is guaranteed.”
The Palestinians are deeply disappointed and angry at losing their first chance to vote since 2006. The Israeli authorities have not made any positive or negative public statements about the impending polls. But with a show of force, police arrested three candidates who were organizing an event in East Jerusalem and dispersed the crowd.
With few exceptions, the estimated 340,000 Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 and then annexed, do not have Israeli citizenship and therefore cannot vote in Israeli elections. As part of the Oslo accords negotiated during the 1990s peace process, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed that Palestinians in East Jerusalem would be allowed to vote in the elections to the Palestinian Authority.
Expansion of Israeli settlements
Although Jerusalem is supposed to be the capital of a Palestinian state under the internationally accepted “two-state solution”, voting in East Jerusalem has mainly symbolic value: the Palestinian Authority has no influence on the lives of Palestinians there. -low.
This also applies to much of the West Bank, as well as to the Gaza Strip, which has been controlled by Hamas since 2007. The Palestinian Authority only administers urban centers in the West Bank. But contrary to the name suggests, he has nothing but authority. He is obliged to coordinate with Israel in almost all areas, not to say demand authorization of the occupying power, even now in the event of scheduled elections.
That is why it is mainly foreigners who still believe in the two-state solution.
The PA, and with it the ruling Fatha party, has lost a lot of credibility with the Palestinians. Since its inception in 1994, it has not been able to help the Palestinians achieve a real state worthy of its name.
On the contrary, since the signing of the Oslo Accords, Israel has continued to expand its settlements in the West Bank and has practically consolidated its claim to all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Israeli settlements with more than 650,000 settlers now stretch across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, depriving Palestinians of freedom of movement and development opportunities.
Using the word “ apartheid ”
That is why it is mainly foreigners who still believe in the two-state solution. Although many Palestinians would like to have their own state, they see that adherence to the two-state principle obscures the reality of the existing – one – state, in which some enjoy civil rights and freedoms and others struggle under one. draconian military law.
After 53 years, the Israeli occupation can hardly be considered “temporary”. The idea of a two-state solution would be nothing more than a mere facade, blocking sight of blatant human rights violations that are trivialized as “temporary evil”. Palestinian analysts and non-governmental organizations have long described the Palestinian reality as “apartheid” – a term that remains taboo in countries like Germany when it comes to discussing Israel.
Israelis heads of government love Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert and the former Mossad chief Meir DagenHowever, he warned for many years that Israel was turning into an apartheid state. In early 2021, one of the largest Israeli human rights organizations, B’tselem, used this term in areport.
Recently, Human Rights Watch, the international heavyweight of human rights organizations, also caused a stir. Applying the definition of apartheid in the Rome Statute, Human Rights Watch has meticulously described the reality in Israel / Palestine. Its 213-page report concludes that Israel is committing crimes against humanity, including aside and persecution.
PA pays a high price
This climate could have provided the Palestinian Authority with one last chance to show that it is not over, that it enjoys democratic legitimacy and could perhaps even lay the foundations for a Palestinian state – if the Political winds in Israel were bound to change at some point. Currently, only a few members of the Knesset continue to support the two-state solution as articulated in numerous UN resolutions, while many vehemently oppose it.
Despite the Palestinians’ deep frustration with the occupation and the PA’s performance, they were ready to give it another chance: 93% of eligible voters were registered and a poll found that nearly 75 percent intend to vote. And despite the massive constraints, there were 36 candidate lists.
The Americans have not played a commendable role either.
Palestinians are tired of being ruled by presidential decree – and in the Gaza Strip, by the Islamist Hamas party. Many also hoped that the elections would end the political divide between the Fatah-ruled West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Many political movements such as the Palestinian Social Democratic National Initiative have demanded elections be held whether Israel accepts it or not. Why ask Israel to authorize the right to vote in democratic elections?
The PA and in particular its dominant Fatah party are paying a high price for the delay, which is more like a cancellation. Everyone says the PA is just a pawn in the hands of the Israeli occupiers. Even the invocation of East Jerusalem cannot hide the fact that key people around President Abbas feared losing power in the election.
The Americans have not played a commendable role either. To please President-elect Biden and regain U.S. sympathy after years of diplomatic hostility fueled by former President Donald Trump, Palestinian factions quickly pulled themselves together and agreed to hold an election.
But now Americans are visibly silent. Unlike the European Union and some of its member states, Washington has not praised the planned elections, nor has it urged the Israeli government to allow Palestinians in East Jerusalem to vote.
Granted, the Biden administration has yet to formulate its Middle East policy. And yes, after its fourth election in two years, Israel is bogged down in building a ruling coalition and the United States does not want to intervene. But even if the United States did not encourage the postponement of the election, its current hesitation could be decisive with what the Biden administration has once again declared its goal: the two-state solution.
Most Palestinians no longer believe in their leadership and in their foreign “solutions”. They are preparing to fight longer for their rights – rights which are not only violated by the Israeli occupation but also by their own leaders.