‘Disenfranchised’ Palestinians Go to the Polls
Henry Siegman, the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress, wrote in a recent issue of the London Review of Books that Israel is “Palestine’s occupier,” and that the Palestinians live under “permanent subjugation.” Likewise, Senator Bernie Sanders told last year’s J Street conference that the Palestinians are being “forced to live under perpetual Israeli rule.” And journalist Peter Beinart, in the Forward, recently claimed that the Palestinian Arabs “are colonial subjects” and that “West Bank Palestinians cannot vote for the government that dominates their lives.”
Yet last weekend, the Palestinians did exactly that: They voted for the government that dominates their lives.
Hundreds of thousands of supposedly “disenfranchised” Palestinians went to 461 polling stations, and chose the members of the 391 municipal and village councils in the Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled portions of Judea and Samaria. A total of 3,489 council members were elected.
These councils are the bodies that “dominate” the lives of the Palestinian Arab masses. There are no Israelis “dominating” their lives, because the Israelis left these areas more than two decades ago.
In 1995, as part of the Oslo agreements, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdrew from the cities in Judea and Samaria where more than 98 percent of the Palestinians there reside. There is no Israeli military governor ruling them — the Israeli military administration in those areas was long ago dismantled. The only “occupation” of the Palestinians is the 22-year occupation carried out by the PA, now headed by Mahmoud Abbas, who is in the 12th year of his four-year term as president.
Thus, the Palestinian municipal councils are the ones who “dominate” daily life. They — not the Israelis — deal with schools, hospitals, courts and trash collection.
The truth is that the PA is as close to being a state as it possibly can be without endangering Israel’s security. Pretty much the only thing that the PA can’t do is import tanks, planes, Iranian “volunteers” or North Korean missiles.
If Henry Siegman, Bernie Sanders and Peter Beinart want to argue that the PA should be allowed to import tanks, missiles and Iranians, then let them make that case. But it’s time they stopped lying about Israel “occupying” or “subjugating” or “disenfranchising” the Palestinians. Last week’s Palestinian elections proved, once again, that those claims are false.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.