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Municipal elections in Israel and the new Arab-Jewish party

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Municipal elections in Israel and the new Arab-Jewish party

They were supposed to take place on October 31st Israel the elections for municipal councils, an important political test in the country marked for months by a deep schism that is crossing and tearing apart society, after the installation of a government resulting from an alliance between Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud and religious-fundamentalist parties. Massive and persistent protests by large sectors of public opinion against the antidemocratic degradation of the country and the wave of intolerant tribalism, in ways unprecedented in the history of Israel up to forms of almost “conscientious objection” of army reserve units; civil disobedience actions that demonstrate the severity of the crisis and the acute danger of a disintegration of society.

Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel

On October 7, Hamas terrorists, using the opportunity of provocations by Jewish extremists, including members of government parties who preach the expulsion of Palestinians and alleged threats to the integrity of the Temple Mount and Al Aqsa – the sacred site of ‘Islam but at the same time a symbol of a reclaimed sovereignty – they perpetrated a brutal act mass massacre on the territory of Israel. They hit and devastated buildings, roads, infrastructures in the southern and central regions of the country, killed and injured civilians, kidnapped hostages: a barbaric display of strength in reacting against the enemy Israel while the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, in rhetoric fundamentalist Hamas, remained useless and inert.

Two winners in the short term in this “barbaric feud” – as Avishai Margalit, a distinguished Israeli philosopher, defined it years ago – which grips the two peoples, two winners locked in an evil, objective alliance: Hamaswhich triumphs in the sympathies of the Palestinians and in the rhetoric of the Muslim world; Benjamin Netanyahu who, prime minister of a government strongly opposed by large sections of public opinion, remains the leader of a “union sacrée” against the irreducible enemy. Since then a devastating war has been underway between Israel and Hamas militiamen on the territory of the Gaza Strip.

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It is a profound regression from the philosophy of the Oslo agreements, which are 30 years old, the premise of which was the mutual recognition of rights: that of the Israelis to peace and security as a mirror of that of the Palestinians to a State worthy of the name. On the one hand, it is vain for Israel to rely on the mere military repression of violence without offering a peace negotiation, rather extolling the desire to build new houses in the West Bank settlements, retroactively legalizing other illegal settlements and indulgently tolerating the repeated gang violence of the settlers themselves against Palestinian localities and their inhabitants who push them to abandon their land and sources of livelihood. On the other hand, Hamas’s illusion of subduing Israel with violence, redeeming the impotence of the Palestinian Authority, weakened in its apparatus and strongly delegitimized in its own public opinion, remains an unfortunate obsession of that fundamentalist movement.

The Arab-Jewish party Kol Ezracheya in the municipal elections

A small but significant glimmer of light comes from the formation a few months ago of a Arab-Jewish party on an equal basiscalled Kol Ezracheya (All citizens). In its founding manifesto it states: “we offer a real and radically innovative alternative. We propose a substantive and profound political partnership between Jews and Arabs, of all stripes, on civic, constitutional and egalitarian grounds. Together, Jews and Arabs, men and women, we constitute a unique political representation, which reflects the full collaboration between the members of the two national communities of Israel.” The impulse that animates the party is that of a long-term, political and cultural action, which transforms the dominant psychology in the country from the “ethnic” nationalism of an Israel “State of the Jews” to a “State of the Israelis”, with a civil and egalitarian identity.

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Candidates of the new party run in the municipal elections postponed to February 27 in six cities, small and large in the country, but Jerusalem is the epicenter of the news. Jerusalem where out of approximately 1 million residents 400,000 are Arabs of which approximately 340,000 have temporary residence permits in the city and 60,000 are Israeli citizens. They, never represented with any seat in the municipal council, are running in these elections with several Jewish candidates led by Sundus El Khota young 33-year-old Palestinian educator, Arabic language teacher in Jewish schools and in the city’s public administration.

A significant novelty therefore for the defenceless, oppressed and voiceless Palestinians of East Jerusalem. There is no building planning in those neighborhoods and therefore almost all newly built Palestinian houses are designated as illegal and subject to demolition. Expropriation of Palestinian land and subsequent construction of new Jewish neighborhoods continue in Silwan, Ras al Amoud, Walaja and other parts of the city. The boycott of municipal elections, always preached by the PLO and then by the Palestinian Authority, as an act of protest against the annexation of the eastern part of the city after the 1967 war and the subsequent changes to its status, was a self-destructive practice ; it certainly did not contribute in any way to defending the rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem.

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