Palestinians never regarded Israeli elections as one of their own affairs. However, since (Israeli) parties regarded the Palestinian issue as one of their own affairs, matters have changed.
The competition between various parties to win the elections is in fact centered on who can come up with more severe methods to oppress the Palestinians and to keep the suffocating Israeli occupations grip around their necks.
If that is the case and essence of the Israeli parties competition to win more votes, why should the Palestinians not consider the results of these elections as something that will drastically affect them, their livelihood, freedom and security?
Netanyahu’s platform to win the leadership of the Likud, as a step towards achieving the position of Prime Minister can be summarized as follows:
Rejection of the establishment of a Palestinian State, expulsion of President Arafat, and totally crushing the Palestinian Resistance.
He has not presented any internal Israeli issue such as the collapsing economy, unemployment, institutional bankruptcy, environmental contamination, the spread of crime, moral corruption and widespread drug addiction, etc.
Sharon’s platform is not far off from that of Netanyahu. It revolves around fighting the Palestinian Resistance, terror, and subjecting Palestinians to his personal political view and understanding of security, calling on the US to postpone implementation of the American plan relating to the establishment of the Palestinian State.
On the other side, General Mitzna, the leader of the Labor party, and its candidate for prime minister, has concentrated all his attention on his political program of negotiating with the Palestinians.
The ultra-Rightist coalition headed by Lieberman has defined its program to conquer terrorism and revive Israeli hopes.
The ultra right wing parties have united their efforts under the new title of “National Union”, which Lieberman explains as a slogan in his campaign: We have to decide on many issues in these elections, most important of which is the issue of Palestinian State and the nature of our relations with the Palestinians. His solution was: We have to dismantle the Palestinian Authority to be able to wipe out terrorism.
Lieberman attacked Mitzna for calling for the dismantling of settlements in the West Bank & Gaza. He called for an expansion of the colonial settlement network on Palestinian land.
It is clear that all programs of Israeli parties for these elections revolve around the Palestinian Issue. So why does Mofaz, Sharon and Lieberman feel threatened if the Palestinians express their views of these programs, as well as their interest in this election’s outcome?
Taking these factors in the development and events in the election programs, the Palestinians have every reason to be interested in the Israeli elections, as well as the right in influencing the outcome by addressing the Israeli voters.
The Israeli voter must be aware of what is happening in the Palestinian Territories, the daily torture they are subjected to by the Israeli military power and occupation.
Palestinians must clarify their aspirations for Peace with the Israeli People, to put a final end to violence, so that both peoples may enjoy security, stability, and development within their borders. Both states can exist in sovereignty, side by side, with mutual respect and strategic cooperation.
I ask the Israeli voter: Why not give Peace a chance? Why is the future of Israel being dictated by colonialist (settlers), which came from Brooklyn to drag Israel into war?
Sharon and Mofaz have used military power, bringing havoc, destruction, and killing throughout our land, creating fertile and prefect breeding grounds for extremists within the Palestinian people. Subsequently allowing for fatal mistakes of targeting Israeli civilians, in the same way Sharon and Mofaz are targeting the Palestinians collectively.
Sharon did not offer a political solution and instead choose a military option. Now, two years later, he is still in the same predicament.
We (the Palestinians) live inside a big concentration camp. We need security the same way Israelis need it. We need to work to feed our families. Your conscripted sons deprive us from our effort to earn our livelihood. They shoot our children, shell our schools, attack our hospitals, uproot our trees and demolish our homes.
Killing civilians is unacceptable and condemned and must be put to an end, whether in Hadera, Jerusalem, Haifa or any place in Israel. Killing of civilians in Rafah, Khan Younis, Beit Rima, Ramallah, Nablus, or other, is also unacceptable and condemned and must be stopped.
Israelis and Palestinians have fallen victims of extremism, spread of violence, murder and destruction. Erroneous views have arisen, utilized by extremists on both sides to incite further violence and use of force to solve a political issue. Violence breeds violence. Whether it is being imposed by occupation and power against the Palestinians as a solution, or used by Palestinian extremists with the expectation of ending Israeli occupation. Both are mistaken.
Why should we not give peace a chance?
The Palestinians people want their freedom and independence. It is futile for any Israeli voter to think that accepting Israeli occupation is an alternative.
I am confident that the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians want peace. They want stability and security based on a political solution that leads to peace, stability and economic development and cooperation.
I call upon you (the Israeli voter) to move towards peace because the bloodshed must stop.
I am writing to Israelis and Palestinians alike, to clarify the following:
The majority of Palestinians have not changed their strategy. Their strategic choice, which has been endorsed by the legislative, executive and popular civil bodies, is the establishment of peace with Israel on the basis of “two states within historic Palestine”. A secure state of Israel, and a safe state of Palestine, on the West Bank & Gaza.
Palestinian recognition of Israel and its right to live in secure and stable borders, as a partner in the Middle East, is irrevocable, regardless of what is declared by extremist groups who will ultimately be defeated when peace prevails.
The talk about the return of 4 million refugees is one of no political realism, nor a genuine political position. The solution of the Palestinian refugee problem is within a concentrated and practical discussion among all parties concerned, with Israeli and Palestinian responsibility to find a solution within the framework of two sovereign states’ interests, and based on the inalienable right of return and resolutions of International legality.
The Palestinians want to implement their right to self-determination on the land occupied by Israel in 1967 – which is compatible with the UN Security Council resolution 242, adopted unanimously and with the acquiescence of Israel – by setting up their independent state on their land occupied in 1967.
Palestinians are ready to recognize any International, American-European éRussian – or even US arrangements to satisfy Israeli need to security control of international borders with Palestine, Jordan and Egypt – for a specified duration of time, acceptable to Israel for even more assurance.
Palestinians are ready to acknowledge similar arrangements with the U.S. or other International framework acceptable to Israel, related to areas of special strategic security – such as the Jordan Valley.
The Palestinian people and its elected authority want peace based on principles of International legality. They want to live side by side with the Israelis and want to cooperate with them, economically, culturally and developmentally.
No doubt, cooperation of the two states and peoples will help to advance the development and economic level not only in Israel and Palestine, but also throughout the Middle East as a whole.
I call on Israelis and Palestinians to reject violence, resume political negotiations, to feel mutual and equal respect.
Let’s not miss the chance for peace.
Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to Yasser Arafat.