After Netanyahu’s “defeat,” Palestinians say vote won’t change anything

While happy about the results, Palestinians don't believe much will change even with a different Prime minister

A Bedouin man casts his ballot in Knesset elections on April 9, 2019 (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
A Bedouin man casts his ballot in Knesset elections on April 9, 2019
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Palestinians did not conceal their joy at the results of Tuesday’s election, particularly over what they perceive as “the severe blow” dealt to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party.
Many warned, however, that Palestinians should not expect major changes in Israel’s policy in the aftermath of the election, because they don’t see real differences between Netanyahu and his political rivals, including Blue and White head Benny Gantz.
Referring to the failure of the Right bloc to secure a parliamentary majority, two Palestinian officials in Ramallah expressed hope that Netanyahu would soon disappear from the political scene.
“This man was a disaster for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” said one of the officials. “We hope this is the beginning of his end.”
The other official told The Jerusalem Post that “many Palestinians are very happy to see Netanyahu defeated and humiliated,” and that he saw “a big smile” on the faces of several senior Palestinian officials upon learning that Netanyahu and his right-wing allies did not score major achievements.
Stressing that Palestinians don’t meddle in Israeli internal affairs, the PA denied allegations on Wednesday that it had attempted to meddle in Tuesday’s vote, despite its tacit support for the Joint List and some left-wing candidates.
Palestinian officials and political activists said that the charges came in the context of “the Israeli Right’s campaign of incitement” against Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel.
In public, Palestinian officials said that they were hoping that any government formed in Israel would recognize the two-state solution, abide by international laws and resolutions, and work toward achieving a just and everlasting peace in the region.
Echoing Palestinians’ satisfaction with the results, Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy chairman of the West Bank’s ruling Fatah faction, said that he was happy to see Netanyahu “defeated.” The prime minister, he charged, was a “symbol of racism and hostility,” and that Netanyahu’s defeat “came after his election campaign focused on carrying out more violations, especially the annexation of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea.”
Aloul added that he was nevertheless cautious about the next ruling coalition’s chances of changing the situation regarding the Palestinians.
“Although the Zionist lists have different agendas, they all agree on the need to continue the occupation and expand settlements,” he said.
The Fatah official and other Palestinians, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction with the rising power of the Arab parties and lists in the Knesset. They said that the 13 seats secured by the Joint List were a “big achievement” for the Arab citizens of Israel.
“The Arabs have increased their political power,” noted political analyst Adel Shehab. “No government in Israel would be able to ignore the Arabs. We are hoping that the Joint List’s success would have a positive impact on Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians.”
While Palestinian officials and political activists were rejoicing over Netanyahu’s “defeat,” ordinary Palestinians and extremist Palestinian groups said that they did not expect any changes in Israel’s policy as a result of the election.
“There’s no difference between Right and Left in Israel,” said university student Ma’moun Sandouka of Hebron. “We’ve seen in the past that so-called left-wing governments and leaders in Israel can be worse than the right-wingers and extremists.”
Zuheir Odeh, an accountant from Nablus, said that while he and many Palestinians were “happy” to see Netanyahu suffer a setback, the Palestinians should not expect any major changes in Israeli policies.
“Netanyahu and Gantz are not different from each other,” he said. “They disagree on many things, but when it comes to the Palestinians, the two share the same hostility. We saw how Gantz was criticizing Netanyahu for not waging war on the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas and several Palestinian terror groups also played down the results of the election, and said they see no difference between the Jewish parties and candidates.
“The Israeli public faced the choice of voting for those who are extremist and those who are more extremist,” said Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem. “All the [Jewish] parties were clear in their hostility toward the Palestinians and in denying our rights.”
He pointed out that many of the parties contesting the election had “incited against the Gaza Strip and voiced support for annexing the West Bank, expanding settlements, and denying Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return.”
The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said in separate statements that the results of the election will not change anything on the ground.
“The Israeli parties are united in their hostility toward the Palestinians,” the PFLP said. “There is no difference between the war criminal Netanyahu and the other war criminals: Gantz, [Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor] Liberman, [former Prime Minister Ehud] Barak and Meretz.”
The group expressed disappointment over the “failure” of the Arab parties and candidates to draw the lessons from their previous mistakes, indicating that they should have boycotted the election. It also warned the Joint List against joining any future coalition in Israel, saying that would create a “dangerous precedent in the Arab’s national struggle.”
The DFLP warned the PA leadership not to “harbor false hopes” regarding the next government in Israel, and urged the PA to revoke Palestinian recognition of Israel and cut all ties with it.