The Joint List members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, have endorsed Benny Gantz to lead the next Israeli government following last week’s General Election. This is another betrayal of the Palestinian cause. Out of the four factions in the bloc, Balad was the only party to repudiate the endorsement, stating emphatically that it would not back Gantz due to his Zionist ideology and his involvement in military aggression as the former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces.
Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh is reported to have prioritised ousting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “For us, the most important think is removing Benjamin Netanyahu from power.” This simplistic approach makes the mistake of attributing equivalence between Netanyahu and the Zionist colonial project.
If the political representatives of Israel’s Palestinian citizens limit themselves to opportunity, the Palestinian cause will suffer additional fragmentation. It has been argued, and not without reason, that Palestinians living in Israel are not given enough attention, or prominence, in comparison with Palestinian refugees and the Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip when it comes to the national cause. The Arab MKs who endorse Gantz have contributed to this differentiation at a political level, unless the Palestinians in Israel voice their rejection of their decision.
Even without Netanyahu, Israel will continue to colonise Palestine and by endorsing Gantz the Joint List factions will have ensured their collusion in the process. Palestine has been ravaged by Zionism and Palestinians dispossessed by the implementation of such a pernicious ideology, yet the Joint List made a conscious decision to cast Palestinian memory aside, and with it the legitimate right of return. Did Palestinians living in Israel vote for representation of their rights or for their limited options to align themselves with the choice of a Zionist agenda?
The Joint List MKs have committed the mistake of choosing between two proven forms of colonial aggression to secure limited power in the Knesset. Justifying the decision by citing Netanyahu’s elimination is not a valid reason, especially when his main challenger for the leadership of Israel is known to have orchestrated the 2014 massacre in Gaza known as Operation Protective Edge.
During his election campaign, Gantz promised more violence in the form of targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders, as well as further destruction of Gaza. Netanyahu’s diplomatic strategy seeks annexation and the normalisation of ongoing violence against Palestinians which would thwart international scrutiny and ensure Israel has leverage over the manipulation of human rights. Both endorse colonial expansion and refute Palestinian liberation or the notion of even a hypothetical Palestinian state. Is there really a choice between Netanyahu and Gantz, as the Joint List endorsement implies?
The Palestinian cause for liberation is common to all Palestinians. If sections of Palestinian representatives are opting out of the struggle, it is imperative that the deviation is outlined clearly and communicated to the people. Endorsing Gantz may provide a temporary platform for the Joint List, but it will not endear them to the Palestinian people in the long run.
A key component of the Palestinian cause is Palestinian memory, which should be politicised at all levels, rather than betrayed. Inside Israel, the trust loaned to the Joint List factions endorsing Gantz has been marginalised to uphold one form of colonisation over another.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.