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If I were a Palestinian I'd be pleased with Netanyahu's victory

Benjamin Netanyahu has won a resounding electoral victory despite the fact that he has become a caricature of Israeli rejectionists and the best efforts of "anyone but Bibi" political campaign, which reportedly received $350,000 from the US State Department to unseat him. But is this really a disaster for Palestinians?

If I were one of the four million Palestinians that have been denied the right to exercise my vote for half a century over who should govern my life, I would feel rather pleased by this result.

Palestinians know better than anyone that for over seven decades, the only constant in their life, irrespective of who is at the helm of Israeli politics, whether from the left or the right – Labor or Likud – is violent suppression of Palestinian self-determination and violation of their human rights.

The Israeli right's rejectionist and bellicose image should not hide the historical fact that the Israeli left has a far greater legacy in the oppression and subjugation of Palestine than the Israeli right. It is the left that has systemised a matrix of control and repressive techniques used for the suppression of Palestinians.

It was the Israeli Left that carried out the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, expelled over half of the Palestinian population and made the vast majority of Palestinians stateless. Millions of Palestinians, whose families were violently expelled from their homes by Jewish settlers in Mandate Palestine in 1947-48, remain stateless. These include the people of Gaza, the West Bank (four million) and a million or more in diasporas in Lebanon, Syria, and other countries. A million Palestinians are now citizens in Israel, and others have rights of citizenship in far-flung places like Chile and Honduras, as well as the United States. But around five million at least remain stateless.

It is the so called Israeli doves that also established colonial facts on the ground, without publicly announcing the real intentions behind them while cloaking their actions with a legal discourse that purposely confused Israeli law, international law, Jordanian law and Ottoman law, to justify expropriation of land as "state land", including the entrenchment of settlements and pursued a policy of systematic "legal theft".

Stateless and without legal and political protection, the situation of Palestinians in the eyes of Professor Juan Cole, has come to resemble that of slaves, since slaves also were denied the rights of citizenship, a status that has enabled both the Israeli left and right to violate the basic human rights of the Palestinians while expropriating their land.

Given the left's shameful record, which in any other historical and political context would be rightly adjudged to be a rejectionist colonial force, does it really matter who is the prime minister of Israel? Whether it is Bibi Netanyahu or Isaac Herzog, Israel's policy on Palestine by the standards of international law and justice will continue to be as immoral and unlawful as it has been for the past seven decades.

What makes Netanyahu a hawk and those on the left doves is really a question of style and approach and not substance. Netanyahu's polarising politics makes it harder for pro-Israelis to support Israel, or at least he poses a challenge for so called Liberal Zionists in not looking like warmongering loons when defending Israel.

He is detested because he is the source of much embarrassment to liberal Jews that identify with Israel as well as western leaders that want to maintain their unquestioned support for Israel without corrupting their image as the voice of moderation and balance.

With four electoral victories now under his belt, this election was a referendum on Netanyahu and his polarising style. Israeli's have backed his polarising and bellicose politics despite the wishes of many in the West. His last gasp promise that there will be no Palestinian state if he wins, a commitment that is jarring to western leaders and liberal Jews alike, guaranteed him victory but also highlights the massive problem pro-Israelis face in justifying their public supporting for a rogue state.

So, if I were a Palestinian living under Israeli occupation and given a right to vote, I would not have voted for anyone on the left, as time after time they have demonstrated their proficiency in maintaining the occupation with a veneer of compromising politics. Instead, I would have backed Netanyahu to reflect the intransigence of Israeli society and at the same time make supporting Israel as unpalatable as possible.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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