OTTAWA, 19 September, 2019–Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) congratulates the Joint List of Arab parties on its historic showing in Israel’s September 17 election. With nearly all the votes counted, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party got 33 seats, followed by 31 for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, and 13 for Ayman Odeh’s Joint List.
“Despite everything they were up against, Palestinian citizens of Israel came out to vote in even greater numbers this time around,” said Corey Balsam, IJV National Coordinator. “Their resilience in the face of incitement, voter suppression and institutional discrimination, is deserving of celebration.”
Netanyahu made headlines this election campaign when Facebook censured his official page for a post that the company said violated its hate speech policies. The message was sent to followers via a chatbot, warning that Arabs (in Israel) “want to destroy us all – women, children and men.” Netanyahu and the Likud also sought to dissuade Palestinian voters by forward a bill–ultimately unsuccessful–to install cameras in polling stations.
The Joint List is a political coalition made up of four Palestinian-majority parties: Hadash, Ta’al, Balad and the United Arab List. Together, they represent roughly two million Palestinian citizens of Israel, or twenty percent of Israel’s citizenry. The coalition has also been attracting an increasing number of Jewish-Israeli voters who believe in full civil and national equality between Jews and Palestinians.
Unlike those living under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian citizens of Israel have the right to vote in Israeli elections, though are denied equal rights, including on account of the highly controversial 2018 nation-state law.
“No Palestinian party in Israel has ever been included in a coalition government, and it’s unlikely this time will be any different,” Balsam said. “But their voices–and seats–are becoming increasingly difficult to discount.”
“While the most extreme right-wing party, Otzma Yehudit, did not pass the electoral threshold, most of the Knesset ranges from right-wing to fanatically so,” said Balsam. “The whole political spectrum is skewed to the right. It should raise some red flags when the party of the military generals, Blue and White, is presented as ‘centre-left’. Its leader, Gantz, is currently being pursued in a Dutch court for war crimes.”
“Whatever coalition is formed, it isn’t likely to improve the situation for Palestinians, especially those living under occupation. In this regrettable context, the Joint List is a small but significant ray of hope,” he concluded.
For media requests, please contact: Corey Balsam, National Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, 514-437-2950