By Arab News
By Mohammed Najib
The prospect of Benjamin Netanyahu returning to power as head of one of the most right-wing coalitions in Israeli history has prompted concern among Palestinians who fear it could be a prelude to an escalation of their conflict with Israel.
More than 100 Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied West Bank have been killed by Israeli forces this year.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the rise of right-wing parties was “a natural result of the growing extremism and racism in Israeli society, which the Palestinians have been suffering from for years.”
But Palestinians “would not stop their legitimate struggle to end the occupation, gain freedom and establish their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital regardless of the identity of the winners in the Israeli elections.”
He added: “The difference between the Israeli parties is the same as the difference between Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola.
“We had no illusions that the ballot boxes in the Israeli elections would produce a partner for peace in light of the aggressive policies and practices that our people suffer from, which do not give weight to international decisions and laws.
“The results of the Israeli elections confirmed that we have no partner in Israel for peace and that the international community must assume its responsibility to implement international resolutions and protect our people after the rise of racist parties to power in Israel.”
The Palestinian leadership has always supported and maintained ties with Israel’s left-wing parties in the hope of a resumption of peace talks.
Ahmed Al-Deek, an adviser to the Palestinian foreign minister for political affairs, told Arab News: “We will determine our position on the upcoming Israeli coalition based on its policies and stances on the Palestinian issue.
“We view with great gravity this emergence of Israeli fascism represented by Ben Gvir and Smotrich, and we consider it one of the expressions of the deep crisis that Israelis are experiencing as a result of the continuation of the occupation and the establishment of the apartheid regime in the Palestinian territories.”
Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir calls his Arab colleagues “terrorists” and advocates deporting political opponents. In his youth, his views were so extreme that the army banned him from compulsory military service.
Bezalel Yoel Smotrich is a radical right-wing politician who heads the Religious Zionist Party and previously served as a Knesset member for Yamina.
Hamas, which governs Gaza, holds a similar position to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah on the Israeli poll.
Hamas official Bassim Naiem told Arab News that the results of the election showed the “true face of Israel.”
“Those who showed great sadness over these results or expressed great surprise, locally and internationally, are either naive or politically ignorant, who didn’t read the history of the Zionist movement and project, and if they did, they didn’t understand it,” he said.
Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, said the elections would not change anything because they were taking place between two extremist right-wing groups and in the absence of a true peace camp.
He added that the most troubling thing was that a criminal fascist party headed by Smotrich and Ben-Gvir might get third place, indicating the degree of descent of colonial Israeli society toward racial extremism and the doctrine of ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
Al-Deek said: “There is no power in the world capable of canceling the presence of the Palestinian people on their land and homeland, and they will continue to struggle by all means to confront the occupation until the double standards in international standards are broken.”
Palestinians also expressed anger at the fact that their occupier has held five elections in less than four years while they have not held any since 2006.
Amer Hamdan, a legal activist from Nablus, said on Facebook: “How will we feel about ourselves when we watch millions of Israeli citizens going to the polling stations … and we cannot choose who represents us; neither in the West Bank nor the Gaza Strip?”
Another Palestinian commented sarcastically: “The elections are taking place to choose the best, and as long as the best is currently ruling us, what is the need for elections?”
Another said: “We don’t need democracy, we have perfect leadership, but the problem is that the people are not able to understand them properly.”
Another comment read: “They (Fatah and Hamas) divided it. The West Bank is for the Palestinian Authority, and Gaza is for Hamas, and each side is satisfied with its share.”