No matter how many Palestinians vote in Israeli elections, we still can’t win

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List coalition of Palestinian parties, votes in Haifa, Israel, in Tuesday’s election. His group will be the third-largest bloc in the next Knesset. (photo: Ariel Schalit / AP)
Whether Netanyahu or Gantz forms the next government, the right-wing policies will remain the same.

By Henriette Chacar | The Washington Post | Sep 20, 2019

By giving only a certain class of Palestinians the right to vote, Israel maintains a veneer of democracy, even though more than 75 percent of Palestinians who live under varying degrees of its rule are disenfranchised.

As polling in Israel came to a close Tuesday night, my family turned on the news to watch the results trickle in. Flashes of blue and white fired from the screen onto my brother’s face, revealing a sense of relief and confusion. Despite — or perhaps because of — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rampant racist rhetoric in recent weeks, about 60 percent of eligible Palestinian voters participated in the elections, up by 10 percentage points over turnout in the April elections, which left no party able to form a government. The Joint List, the slate uniting non-Zionist Palestinian and Jewish candidates, will be the third-largest party in the Knesset, with 13 seats.

“That’s great, no?” my brother asked.

Well, it’s complicated.

In the obscure political map still taking shape after a second election in less than six months, in which the right still reigns but is now fragmented, Palestinian voters proved they are a force to be reckoned with, which is impressive. Theoretically, this could grant the Joint List, headed by Ayman Odeh, the ability to determine who ends up serving as prime minister; it would be the first time Palestinians could realistically consider joining the governing coalition or leading the opposition.

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