By Hamraz Ahmad

Despite promises by Palestinian Authority officials not to interfere in Israel’s Nov. 1 Knesset election, P.A.’s official newspaper columnists urged Arab citizens to vote for certain parties. 

“Personal and national need requires flocking to the polling stations and voting for Hadash-Ta’al and Balad,” wrote a columnist, Omar Hilmi al-Ghoul, on Oct. 31.

Three Palestinian blocs comepteted in the elections. The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, led by Ayman Odeh, and the Arab Movement for Change, led by Ahmad Tibi, joined hands to form the Hadash-Ta’al list.  

Among the reasons al-Ghoul wants to encourage Arab Israeli turnout is to foster civil unrest in Israel, said Maurice Hirsch, director of legal strategies for Palestinian Media Watch, in a statement that appeared on an Israeli NGO’s website. 

“[D]eepening the crisis in the Zionist colonialist society, pushing it into a cycle of endless elections that will cause an internal Zionist explosion” is one of the key goals, writes al-Ghoul. 

The crisis will open a “crater of conflicts” whose ramifications will include “the outbreak of a complicated civil war,” he said. 

Supporters of leader of Israel’s Otzma Yehudit Itamar Ben Gvir gather following the Israelâs general elections in Eastern Jerusalem on November 02, 2022. Israeli polling stations closed after seeing the highest voter turnout for general elections since 1999. MOSTAFA ALKHAROUF/ANADOLU AGENCY VIA GETTY IMAGES 

Notably absent from the list of al-Ghoul’s suggested parties is the Islamist-oriented Ra’am Party, noted Hirsch. This was not an oversight as the P.A. opposes the idea of any Arab Israeli party joining with an Israeli government. 

Last year, Ra’am became the first independent Arab party to do so. Another regular columnist for the P.A.’s paper, Bassam Barhoum, also called for Arab Israelis to vote, writing on Oct. 31 that “elections in a racist country like Israel are not a solution, but they are one of the few opportunities to make a change, however small and slow it may be.” 

Barhoum expressed regret over the breakup of the Joint List, an alliance of four Arab parties that splintered ahead of the election. 

“There is no doubt that the split of the Joint Arab List is an unfavorable development, and it is true that the Arab public voted in large numbers when the list was unified, and that they received 12 mandates. 

“But if the Arab public votes this Tuesday in the same high proportion, 12 Arab members will reach the Knesset,” he said.

The Palestinians in Israel however, struggle staying connected to the political process, hence were unlikely make a big election turnover.

Israeli soldiers stand guard as an ambulance arrives at the scene of a reported ramming attack at the Maccabim checkpoint in the West Bank, near Israel’s central city of Modiin, on November 2, 2022. Israeli troops killed a Palestinian after he seriously injured a soldier with a car, authorities said. GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Khalil Gharra, a Palestinian living in Haifa told a news agency: “They try to keep persuading themselves and the people with slogans, but nothing at all has changed for the people – the home demolitions, the violence and crime – and over the past 10 years things are only getting worse.

“Struggling within the framework of being citizens does not take you to a place of liberation and dignity.

“None of these parties has tried to get out of the Knesset and really build something,” said Gharra.

Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate.

(Additional reporting provided by JNS Reporter)

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