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Border closures, low turnout, and no change: How Palestinians view election day

Jerusalem24 – Ahead of the Israeli general elections, Israeli authorities imposed a comprehensive closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip Monday night to last until Wednesday at dawn.

The closure includes all crossings into and out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, both commercial and designated for individuals and workers. All Palestinians will therefore be prevented from entering Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, and Palestinian workers in Israel have had their work permits suspended for 48 hours.

In 2021, the Israeli authorities also imposed closures on Palestinians on the day of the elections, similar to national and religious holidays. However, this year the closure comes in light of Israeli claims of armed attacks.

In an extreme but not unprecedented move, Israeli police called on Sunday on all Israelis who own a license to carry their weapons with them on polling day.

Five in less than four years

This is the fifth general election since 2019. 6.7 million residents of Israel have the right to vote, including Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, or “Arab Israelis” as they are called by the Israeli government and press. Polls have predicted a record low 40% turnout for Palestinians in Israel.

Today’s election comes after the dissolution of the so-called “Government of Change”, headed by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, a government that brought together eight disparate parties that managed to overthrow former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is capitalizing on current extreme right-wing trends in Israel and aiming to return to power.

While 40 lists are competing in the elections, most Israeli opinion polls show that this latest one may end inconclusively as well.

The electoral race has been witnessing a heated battle between the right and extreme-right parties on the one hand, and the center and so-called left-wing parties on the other, as opinion polls have not yet confirmed which of the two parties will be able to form the next coalition government.

Other opinion polls give an advantage to the coalition led by former far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, without obtaining an absolute majority.

No change on the horizon

Political analysts point out that whether opposition leader Netanyahu makes a dramatic comeback or Lapid is able to retain his current status as PM, no major change is on the horizon for Palestinians.

The deputy head of the northern Islamic movement in Israel, Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib, said that the Palestinians of Israel have been certain that the Israeli Knesset is not the address for obtaining their rights, noting that the ball will continue to roll toward more boycotts in the coming years.

During the weekly Cabinet meeting, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said, “Israel is going to general elections after it deliberately campaigned for more killings, settlements, and sieges against our people.”

He emphasized that Palestinians are aware that these elections will not bring a partner for peace.

“World governments should demand the next Israeli prime minister stand up and declare that he is ready to end the occupation, that he is ready to end the conflict, and that he declares his commitment to the two-state solution based on international legitimacy,” Shtayyeh said.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine affirmed that “the Israeli occupation has made the Knesset elections a bazaar for Zionist terrorist forces at the expense of Palestinian blood.”

Member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front, Mahmoud Al-Ras, called on Palestinians in Israel to boycott the Israeli elections.

“The Palestinian response lies first in boycotting this election, as it is a tool for the occupying settler terrorism that the occupation entity has practiced on an escalating basis against our people, cities, villages, and camps in the occupied West Bank, and made it a tool to escalate terrorism against the holy sites,” said Al-Ras.

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 5+ years of experience in journalism. She currently works as a reporter, editor and presenter/producer for PBC-Palestine TV and Jerusalem24 radio. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna.

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