Palestinians don't expect 'real changes' after Israel's elections

The only "glimmer of hope that can turn the tables and change all the calculations is the possibility that US Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders would win the upcoming US presidential election."

Israel elections:time to vote. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel elections:time to vote.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinians said on Sunday they were not expecting real changes in Israeli policies after Monday’s general election, regardless of who wins the vote.
While some Palestinians said they would be happy to see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lose the election, others warned that his rival, Blue and White head Benny Gantz would endorse similar policies towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if he forms the next government.
Palestinian political analysts and officials stressed the need for the Palestinians to take matters into their own hands by ending the ongoing power struggle between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“Palestinians must take their destiny into their own hands and not wait for any changes in Israeli policies after the election, regardless of the nature of the government that will be formed,” said Sufian Abu Zaida, a senior Fatah official and former PA minister. “The best way to strengthen the Palestinian stance and preserve our interests and dignity is by making order in our house and ending the division [between the West Bank and Gaza Strip].”
Abu Zaida said that if Netanyahu forms the next government, he will proceed with his plan to “annex” parts of the West Bank, especially if US President Donald Trump is reelected for another term. “Netanyahu does not care if the PA stays or collapses,” he added. “His plan to annex parts of the West Bank will continue.”
If Gantz manages to form the next government, Abu Zaida said, his policies will depend on which coalition partners he chooses. If he chooses right-wing parties, Gantz will endorse the same policies as Netanyahu, he said.
Ziad Abu Zayyad, another former PA minister, pointed out that Gantz has surrounded himself by right-wing candidates such as former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Yoaz Hendel, who served as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for Netanyahu between 2011 and 2012.
“We need to understand that Gantz had warmly welcomed Trump’s [recently unveiled peace] plan and promised to annex the Jordan Valley,” Abu Zayyad wrote in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds newspaper. “We’re going to have either a right-wing government or a far right-wing government. Neither will work towards a solution or peace with the Palestinian people. If the Labor Party joins a Gantz government, that could slow down the process of annexation, but it won’t restore the political process or the two-state solution.”
Abu Zayyad said that the only “glimmer of hope that can turn the tables and change all the calculations is the possibility that US Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders would win the upcoming US presidential election. “Sanders is a progressive Jew who refused this week to attend the right-wing AIPAC conference [in Washington D.C.],” he noted. “He clearly says that he supports the security and existence of Israel, but he rejects the continuation of the occupation and supports the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. If he’s elected, the first thing he will do is move the US Embassy back [from Jerusalem] to Tel Aviv.”
PA officials in Ramallah pointed out that the issue of the peace process with the Palestinians was conspicuously absent from the election campaign in Israel.
“We didn’t hear any of the leading candidates talk about the need to resume the peace process with the Palestinians,” a PA official told The Jerusalem Post. “The whole election campaign was about removing Netanyahu from power.”
According to the official, the Palestinian leadership does not expect major changes in Israeli policies even if Netanyahu loses the election and is unable to form a new government. “It’s obvious that the right-wing bloc in Israel is still the biggest force,” he said. “Gantz won’t be able to make real changes, even if he wanted to because he wouldn’t have a majority in the Knesset or among the Israeli public.”
Emad Haddad, a political analyst from Nablus, said most Palestinians don’t see a difference between Netanyahu and Gantz. “They are two sides of the same coin,” Haddad remarked. “Like Netanyahu, Gantz supports the Trump plan, settlements and annexation. The two also support the blockade on our people in the Gaza Strip, and Gantz is even stating that he won’t hesitate to launch war on the Gaza Strip. I don’t know why some people think they are different.”
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry criticized what it called the “hate and racist rhetoric” of Israeli politicians during the election campaign. “The statements of Israeli candidates reflect the widespread racism and culture of occupation and settlements [in Israel],” the ministry said in a statement. “This rhetoric shows that there is no real peace partner in Israel.”
On a more optimistic note, some Palestinians expressed hope that Israelis would cast their ballots in favor of the Joint List and the “peace camp” in Israel. “I don’t care who Israelis vote for as long as it’s Netanyahu,” said Palestinian university lecturer Daoud Milhem. “Netanyahu has destroyed any chance of peace with the Palestinians, and I hope the Israeli voters understand that the only way to achieve calm and stability is by returning to the negotiating table and achieving the two-state solution.”