The post-election debate in Israel has heated up over the weekend.
When the exit polls last week suggested a win for current Prime Minister Netanyahu and his coalition of extreme right-wing political parties, the man was claiming a decisive victory and welcoming the opportunity to pass legislation to stall the bribery and corruption charges he faces.
He was also planning the immediate, illegal, annexation of vast swathes of Palestinian land.
Later in the week the final counting of votes saw him falling three seats short of a majority – his right-wing block has 58 seats in the 120 seat Knesset. The misnamed “centre-left” block – led by Benny Gantz – has 55 seats and Avigdor Lieberman’s party (sometimes the “kingmaker”) has 7 seats. Traditionally Lieberman has supported Netanyahu but this soured and Lieberman resigned as Defence Minister in 2018 over a government decision to support a ceasefire in Gaza which Lieberman characterised as “surrendering to terror”.
Facing losing his job as Prime Minister and being forced to answer bribery and corruption charges due in court on 17 March, Netanyahu is lashing out in all directions, with racism towards Palestinians as his go-to argument.
The 55 seats of the so-called “centre-left” includes 15 seats won by the Arab list parties. These are seats held by Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship (about 20% of the Israeli population)
Netanyahu has previously attacked any proposal to include the Arab-List parties in a coalition government as “an existential threat to Israel” but on the weekend he went a step further saying that the Arab-list seats should not be included in the left block total of seats. According to Netanyahu the only seats that count are those held by Jewish-led parties.
He says the opposition are “stealing the election” and stealing votes. He is inciting the population to reject any government which does not include him as Prime Minister.
All this vile, filthy racism from Netanyahu is predictable and unsurprising. He has built his political career on creating fear and loathing of Palestinians in the Israeli electorate.
But if Netanyahu is finally removed from the political stage in the coming weeks this should not be seen as a sign of any major change in Israeli attitudes towards Palestinians.
Gantz, who could become Prime Minister if he can form a government, has already declared support for annexation of Palestinian land and Lieberman has long supported the excising of a block of Palestinians towns from the state of Israel to make the country more purely Jewish.
Whatever the immediate outcome, the only constant in Israeli political leadership is racism towards Palestinians and the only way forward for the solidarity movement is BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel till it abides by international law and United Nations resolutions.