Israel: Rise of right-wing and racist parties shows no partner for peace

With 89 per cent of votes counted Tuesday night, a bloc combining the Likud party of Israel’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the extreme right Religious Zionism grouping and two ultra-Orthodox parties were on course to win a majority in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset. Religious Zionism’s figurehead Itamar Ben Gvir is a once-fringe ultranationalist previously convicted of incitement to racism; he used to keep a picture in his home of Baruch Goldstein, an extremist who massacred 29 Palestinians in a mosque in 1994.

Exit polls showed the progressive Hadash-Ta’al joint list obtained four to five seats. Hadash-Ta’al advocates for the two-state solution, the end of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, the evacuation of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a return to the borders as they stood on 4 June 1967, and the right of return for all Palestinian refugees. Hadash-Ta’al supports full civil and legal rights for the Palestinian and Israeli-Arab communities in Israel, and opposes all discrimination against them.

Hadash chairman MK Ayman Odeh responded on Tuesday evening to the results of the exit polls in which Hadash-Ta’al joint list obtained four to five seats.

Odeh told Channel 12 News that “the Arab public came out to vote in large numbers, despite the high turnout in the Jewish public.” Odeh expressed hope that his party will win another seat. “Another seat for Hadash-Ta’al will prevent Netanyahu and the Ben Gvirs from forming a government,” he said.

Regarding the achievement registered by the racist Religious Zionist Party, which is projected to win 14 seats, Odeh said, “Kahanism has become 15% of the Israeli public. If the exit polls do not change and this camp forms the government, our public will stand firm against fascism and racism.” The frontpage of the Communist weekly Zo Haderech on Wednesday reads “Back to the streets.”

While the pro-Netanyahu bloc is slated to expand to 65 seats in the Knesset following yesterday’s election, Channel 12 reports that it only received 8,189 more votes than the anti-Netanyahu bloc. However, because Arab Balad party and possibly Zionist Meretz failed to cross the threshold, their votes were scattered to other parties rather than being redistributed to the anti-Netanyahu bloc, which is slated to end with just 55 seats in the Knesset. Both blocs won roughly 50% of the vote, though the final tallies are not yet available.

Palestinians said on Wednesday that the rise of right-wing and racist parties in the Israeli elections shows that there is no partner for peace in Israel. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that the Palestinians had no “illusions” that the elections would produce an Israeli peace partner.

“The results confirm that we have no partner in Israel for peace,” he said. “The international community must assume its responsibilities to implement the resolutions of international legitimacy and provide protection for our people from the aggressive Israeli policies after the rise of racist parties to power.”

“[It] is a natural result of the growing extremism and racism in Israeli society,” Shtayyeh added.

Sources include: Financial Times, Communist Party of Israel

Photo: Itamar Ben Gvir/Creative Commons

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