Caption: BDS supporters hold a protest against Israel in South Africa's Gauteng province recently.
(photo credit: BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
This week the Knesset convened and decided to disperse. It was a decision based on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s understanding that his government would be a lame duck and the looming societal and security challenges requires to restart the system and regain faith in government.
Since the announcement, anti-Israel supporters have come out and claimed that as Israel once again heads for elections, millions of Palestinians ruled by it cannot vote.
This is a claim that is false.
It is a frequent talking point by the supporters of BDS and is raised by anti-Israel online activists as they dub Israel a masquerading democracy. This is a simplistic, populist way of framing the reality on the ground and it is used mostly by those who desire a one-state solution.
Looking carefully at the narrative they are trying to envisage it is important to realize the facts on the ground contradict their own premise. The claim of “occupation,” is not enough to discount the actual Palestinian institutions, functions and representatives, even though their internal Palestinian legitimacy is undoubtedly disputed. Those activists love to ignore the achievements and foundations already laid down for the future Palestinian state.
The Palestinians, as a result of the Oslo Accords, have a self-rule system. They have a Palestinian Legislative Council with 132 elected officials. The legislative council is the Palestinian equivalent to the Knesset. The PLC was established as a provisional parliament with the responsibility of enacting legislations, and oversight over the executive authority. This is the body the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza are supposed to vote for, not for the Knesset. The last election took place in 2006, with Hamas winning the election that caused the violent rift between the leadership, peoples and territories, which remains unbridgeable until today.
In the PLC they receive foreign lawmakers and the Palestinian Legislative Council is a member, observer, or partner in different international parliamentary organizations such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and many others. These platforms serve as staging grounds to bash Israel by the Palestinian representatives.
This is the reality. Some 98% of the Palestinian population enjoys self-governance. A government that manages all of the Palestinian civil affairs and public order. The over-ruling security responsibility rightly remains Israel’s as a result of the impasse in the peace process. Israel cannot permit the West Bank to become another staging ground for Palestinian suicide bombers.
Israel’s Arab population, some see themselves and identify as Palestinians, are proof of our democracy. They are a vibrant vocal element of Israeli society. This week’s polls suggest that again the Arabs will have the third largest party in the next Knesset. Israeli Arabs have the same freedoms of speech and religion, same access to health care and free public education.
Israel is not perfect, and like everywhere, we have pockets of racism, and in the days of social media and no bars, no brains communication it is omnipresent. It must be condemned and confronted. However, I am proud to live in Israel where our democratic system is envied by our neighbors and empowers those voices that are minorities giving them an equal voice in our parliament.
Let the election season begin. The author, a retired IDF lieutenant-colonel, is a communications and strategy consultant, Israel advocate and a former IDF spokesman.
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