Thursday, February 12, 2009

Far Right Gains in Israeli Elections

The openly racist Yisrael Beitenu party won 15 seats in Israel elections Tuesday. With Likud grabbing 27, Kadima 28, and the ultra-orthodox Shas party 11, it is increasingly likely that Likud will form a government with Yisrael Beitenu and Shas. This bodes very, very ill for Palestinians within Israel as well as in the West Bank and Gaza. Yisrael Beitenu has suggested Palestinians in Israel take a loyalty oath, and promised "no citizenship without loyalty." Netanyahu, head of Likud, has supported expanding West Bank settlements, and said recently that the war in Gaza ended too soon and didn't go far enough.(Netanyahu was also part of a right-wing rebellion against Ariel Sharon when Sharon sought to disengage from Gaza in 2005.)

(Those interested in a very in-depth analysis of political parties in Israel should consult Jews sans frontieres' primer on Israeli elections.)

What is clear is that these elections represent a significant shift to the right among the Israeli people.

In addition, still more voices are joining the chorus proclaiming the possibilities of a two-state solution dead. Juan Cole recently declared as much, and none other than Stephen Walt, of "The Israel Lobby" fame and no wild-eyed radical by any means, wrote an editorial in Foreign Policy online magazine asking "what do we do if the two state solution collapses?"

As always, a picture is worth a thousand words. The one accompanying this article says it all: Univesity College London, bedecked with a Palestinian flag by militant students. In the US, students at the University of Rochester recently occupied a building in solidarity with Palestine, and won significant demands. Palestine solidarity activism is sweeping across the UK and Canada, and it looks like it is coming to the US as well. Militant young folks are providing the answers policy wonks like Cole and Walt fail to imagine - direct, people-to-people solidarity with Palestine, standing up to the powerful interests of the status quo.

Free Palestine!

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