With Jeff Halper and Salem Barahmeh
On 23rd March, Israel held its fourth election in two years, but with no clear winner will Netanyahu be able to form a coalition government, or will a fifth election be needed in the next few months? Thirty-nine parties competed for 120 seats in parliament. Thirteen parties passed the electoral threshold, from which a coalition of 61 seats is necessary to form a government. For most of the past three or four decades there have been few stable majorities thus coalitions are formed by a method of “horse-trading” in which the public has no influence. In addition, Israeli citizens do not have representatives and must select a party closest to one’s personal views and vote for whatever list of candidates it provides. So Israeli democracy is anything but participatory.
The Palestine Authority has called for legislative elections on 22 May, for the President of the PA on 31 July and the Palestinian National Council of the PLO on 31 August. However recent changes in electoral laws makes it virtually impossible for young Palestinians to participate in candidate selection or to stand for election thus the monopoly of the ruling factions in the West Bank and Gaza will continue. In a society where the average age is 21, the majority, if not all leadership positions are held by those with an average age of 70.
In addition, with Israel’s matrix of control that it has been established over all of historic Palestine and with its settler colonial policies, Israel ensures that Palestinians living both in the state of Israeli and within the Occupied Palestine Territory do not have equal rights. Palestinians are not able to shape their lives under either system.
During this webinar, arguments were made why any meaningful political change is impossible under the current dysfunctional systems.
Salem Barahmeh is the Executive Director of the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy and a policy member of Al-Shabaka. He is currently a Non-Resident Fellow at the US Middle East Project. Salem received a BA in Government from Lawrence University and an MA in Law and Politics from King’s College London.
Jeff Halper is the Director of ICAHD and he is on the steering committee of the One Democratic State Campaign. He gained his PhD in anthropology from University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and taught at universities in Israel, the US, Central America, and Africa. His latest book is Decolonizing Israel, Liberating Palestine: Zionism, Settler Colonialism, and the Case for One Democratic State.