Monday, September 20, 2021

Let’s Get It Straight! Elections Won’t Change Anything In Israel And Palestine

As Israelis and Palestinians walk down to the voting booth again, we’re still waiting for elections that really matter.

After the years of tumultuous administration with notable resistance, not from just opposing parties but also from the people of Israel, the country is now all set to give its verdict yet another time. The Israeli prime ministerial elections will rubber-stamp the choice of the citizens of the country- whether they want to sail with the wave of anti-democratic laws passed under the Netanyahu administration or break free this time.

However, the 2021 prime ministerial elections of Israel are unusual from other elections in decades. Exactly two months from now, Palestine will hold their legislative elections on May 22. The differences between the fervor of the voters of the two neighboring yet hostile nations are stark and understandable. On one hand is the administration of Israel, denounced by its citizens and collapsed four times in the span of mere two years. People here are exhausted from walking down the voting booths.

On the other hand, is Palestine where citizens are rejoicing the long-pending opportunity to make a choice in elections, after almost 14 years. The last elections on the troubled land were hosted in 2006, just a year before Hamas seized Gaza city in the name of defense against Fatah’s cooperative politics with Israel and the U.S.

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Amid the peculiar setup of the leadership appointment of the two states, the resentment, and fatigue of Israeli voters is already evident. The verdict comes tomorrow and there is still no party, leader to be precise, who has managed to win enough confidence of people to form a clear majority.

Albeit, the world wasn’t really expecting anything different from the Israel elections. Benjamin Netanyahu has stood like an obstinate deadlock in Israeli politics, neither stepping aside nor stepping up. On top of that, the longest-serving Prime Minister of Israel is facing corruption charges as he contests the elections one more time.

Furthermore, the overt dominance on the disputed land of West Bank is only becoming profusely audacious.

During the election season of the two adversaries, the hedges on the roads of West Bank were hemmed with the posters of the Israeli candidates. This is the same region that has been entitled to be the part of Palestine in the future by international laws.

But why is Israel canvassing their elections on West Bank?

The infamous expansionist policies of Israel have found room in their elections too. Not just this time, but for decades. The annexation and settlement of 600,000-800,000 Israelis on the Palestinian lands is just the introduction to the lament. The chorus lies in the rights of these settlers on Palestinian lands to cast their vote in Israel’s elections. Worse, most of the time, they are also the power bearers.

On the other hand, the Palestinians sheltering in the disputed Gaza strip are devoid of the right to vote in the Palestinian elections. They can only cast their vote in the elections of PA (Palestinian National Authority) which is an interim governmental body controlling the Gaza Strip and Areas A and B in the West Bank.

Palestine’s hope splits into two, once again!

Two months from now, Palestinians will cast the vote to voice their choice and it will all again come down to ‘who’?

Hamas or Fatah? The Islamist ideology or the secular outlook? The armed resistance or the diplomacy of negotiations?

To recognize Israel or not to?

The two political affiliations have divided the role of governing Palestinian land hitherto- Fatah ruling the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas shouldering the responsibilities of Gaza. The two might again share the power, might switch them if the citizens want. The results can also vest the administration of the two territories with a single political affiliation. But what matters is not if the men in the dotage of their 70s make a comeback on the carriage of Hamas or Fatah. The real question is, where is the youth of Palestine? And will the country ever go in the direction of what new Palestine wants?

It is nearly impossible that in a country of the average age of 21, no young political aspirant wants to take a leap ahead. Don’t blame the youth of Palestine who has had enough and wants to participate in the change. Blame the recently sanctioned electoral laws of the country that eliminates all the possibilities of young participation.

The minimum age to contest elections in Palestine is 28, the highest in any country in the world. If the age criteria fail to bedevil youth participation in politics, the country mandates the candidates to pay a fee of $20,000 (US dollars) and to resign from any job that he/she is working. An almost impossible scenario for a nation that is still struggling to see the first ray of financial freedom.

Therefore, it would be fair to say that no matter what the circumstances of elections in the two nations be, no matter how stark the difference in the mood of the voters in Israel and Palestine be, it comes down to the same things- the nations being run by the leaders that it does not need.

Till then, we will wait for the election that really matters.

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