The Pre-elections Situation in Palestine and 'Israel': Polarization and Inconclusiveness

The Palestinian issue is heading to an importance historic turn in the coming future. The Palestinian political system, represented by the Palestinian Authority and political factions, is preparing for holding the legislative; presidential and National Council, a PLO institute, elections in the next six months. Meanwhile, the occupation is holding the Knesset elections for the fourth time in two years amidst political and ideological polarization and rift within the entity.

Palestinian Elections and Chance of Unity

At a Palestinian level, the electoral situation appears to be unstable and filled with concerns as it comes after nearly 16 years since the previous elections. Such long period resulted in the Palestinian division and the existence of two governments, one in the occupied West Bank and the other in the Gaza Strip. It also caused political and media squabbling with the PA's attempt in the West Bank, represented by Fatah, to impose sanctions on and exclude the elected Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip.

The coming Palestinian elections reflect a new attempt after dozens of attempts to bridge the Palestinian rift and bring the Palestinian politics back to work again after years of disruption. The Palestinian factions had many rounds of dialogue to consolidate reconciliation, end division and unite the Palestinian body; but these rounds have constantly failed because of the extreme disparity between the two political ideologies. While one believes in all forms of resistance, the other believes in coordination and cooperation with the occupation.

The Palestinian people still hopes that the lesson is learned from the weakness and fragility of the political system that resulted from the division. The occupation exploited the weakness in the system in order to pass its Judaizational schemes, as the Palestinians still suffer from a crisis of confidence in their political system which failed to accept pluralism and consensus and adhered to exclusion and singularity of rule. At these times, the most suspicious thing is the drastic polarization of the members of each movement, and continuous mutual accusation instead of the call for compatibility and complementarity between the factions.

Today, the factions are actively seeking to select their candidates, who would represent the electoral lists, each faction processing it differently. Hamas movement has reached stability and coherence among its components, which is clearly reflected in the harmonious flow of relations among its members who have recently held the primaries that are held periodically every four years.

Fatah movement, on the other hand, suffers from disconnectedness and internal alliances which may lead to entering the elections under several lists: Abbas, Mohamed Dahlan and Marwan Al-Barghouti. The other factions are seeking to arrange their cards in preparation for the elections – except for the Islamic Jihad which announced boycotting the elections. It argued that the elections are conducted under Oslo Accords, which are completely refused by the movement, and thus will not be part of the settlement that is reached.

The Forth Israeli Elections: Stalemate Continues

At the 'Israeli' level, the political system is suffering from serve stalemate especially after four elections in less than two years without any stability achieved, and Netanyahu’s ambitions to continue his rule, which started in 2009, as his opponents seek to remove him. Netanyahu is currently accused  of corruption and bribery.

The 'Israelis' hope that the next elections at the end of March will lead to political stability that will enable them to focus on more important issues such as the budget, settlement project, normalization with the Arab States and the Coronavirus pandemic. 

But the difficult reality makes their hopes unattainable as their political parties are witnessing  a state of intense polarization. That disappointment is clearly evident  in the case of the rapid split-ups and coalition of parties, their rise and fall, and the polarization among them. The parties accuse one another of being responsible for the miserable situation of the entity.

Nevertheless, the thing that remains constant is the close results of the two major camps. The first supports Netanyahu's presence, and the second rejects it without either camp being able to resolve the problem which is alarming to the future of the entity. Recent polls indicated continued closeness between the results of the two camps amidst significant progress for Likud with 28 seats. The results of the poll were as follows:

Party

Expected Seats

Party

Expected Seats

Yesh Atid

18

Tikva Hadashha

15

Yamina

12

The Joint List

9

Chas

8

Torah Judaism

7

Yisrael Beiteinu

8

Meretz

5

Israeli Labor Party

5

Religious Zionism

5

The Blue and White did not pass the threshold, so Netanyahu's supporting parties  can be listed as: The Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Religious Zionism which would win, according to polls, 48 seats. The parties that reject Netanyahu include Yesh Atid, Tikva Hadasha, Yisrael Beiteinu, Meretz, Labor and the Arab joint List which have exactly 60 seats - almost a majority. Yamina, which would win 12 seats, has not declared its position towards Netanyahu.

Closeness of Results and Inconclusiveness

Overall, the Palestinian political system has diverse political parties and factions, but the two main factions in Palestine are Fatah and Hamas, which effectively limits the competition. The most remarkable part about the coming election is the inability of a specific faction to win the majority of votes according to current polls.     

The same is true for the occupation's elections, which may differ in some factors and structures, but is ultimately subject to the fact that a party or coalition is unable to conclude the electoral race, which might lead to a fifth election in the worst-case scenario from the occupation's view.

          After the coming elections, the political situation will be clearer in the Palestinian and 'Israeli' arenas. Depending on the winning party and its political agenda, the Palestinian politics with the occupation will be planned out.