Half of Israelis are ‘stuck’ with a prime minister they didn’t want. All Palestinians are stuck with a president who lost his democratic mandate years ago.
By Talal Jabari
I have spoken to quite a few Israelis following Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest win at the polls earlier this month who talk about their disappointment in his re-election. I am sure that a lot of people who campaigned for other parties — those who felt like there could actually be a change of photo on the walls of the Prime Minister’s Office — were truly disenchanted. After all, that change looked quite possible throughout the race. Some of those Israelis have even spoken about leaving Israel in the aftermath.
I can’t sympathize with any of them.
I can understand their position, and logically their complaints make sense. However, I don’t understand what would cause someone to leave their home simply because the head of their government isn’t their first choice.
Perhaps this is because if we followed the same up-and-leave sentiments vis-à-vis Mahmoud Abbas on the other side of the Green Line, the Israeli Right would no longer be talking about a demographic threat, and traffic jams would be a thing of the past.
I think that what keeps us here, is the proud knowledge that most of us did not vote for him.
This is a man who is clinging onto his position as President of Palestine, contrary to Palestinian law. A man who has repeatedly claimed not to want to remain president, yet doesn’t call for elections. Abu Mazen, as he is called on the Palestinian street, is the executive, legislative and judicial branches rolled up into a solid, corrupt package.
And we’re stuck with him.
I really don’t mind him hiring and firing lawmakers, prime ministers, etc. In his little kingdom, that barely extends beyond the walls of the recently-renovated Presidential Compound. But he hasn’t stopped at that.
Today, April 1, 2015 is an historic day for Palestinians, a day we have waited a long time for: Palestine is officially joining the International Criminal Court (ICC). We have waited for this moment with bated breath, since we have feel that this is our one tangible recourse against violations by Israel’s occupation, neigh, our one recourse against the ultimate violation — the occupation itself.
Over the summer, Israeli forces killed hundreds and maimed thousands of Palestinian civilians. This constitutes a war crime that the ICC has offered to investigate. Israeli settlements are contrary to international law, and starting today, we can go to the ICC and pursue our rights. Our freedom of movement. Our freedom from administrative detention. There is a long list that we can finally begin pursuing in hopes of effecting some sort of change. We cannot and do not want to fight for change militarily, but the ICC finally gives us a fighting chance.
But Mahmoud Abbas, the man for whom we didn’t vote, decided to not pursue an ICC investigation into the construction of Israeli settlements — against the will of the Palestinian people and without conducting any type of referendum. This is the same president, who legally should be out of office, who decided not to pursue justice following Israel’s destructive military campaign, which amounted to crimes against humanity. And in return for what? $500 million of Palestinian tax money, which Israel was withholding illegally from the Palestinian Authority. Money that will help guarantee the perpetuation of his illegal dynasty, while the hopes and aspirations of his people dissipate.
Israelis can call for a vote of no confidence in the Knesset and knock Benjamin Netanyahu out. Even if that doesn’t happen, there will naturally be elections in a few years. Palestinians, on the other hand, are stuck with Abbas, watching helplessly from the sidelines as he makes yet another decision in contravention of the will of the Palestinian people.
So excuse me if I can’t sympathize with your plight. We are stuck in a prison, and our lawyer is performing party tricks for pocket change.
Talal Jabari is a Palestinian award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist from East Jerusalem. He tweets from @TalalJabari.