Inspired by Israel’s Democracy, Palestinians Demand Abbas Hold Elections Too

Jonathan Elkhoury, a Lebanese Christian who now proudly lives in Israel, tweeted the surprising trend on Palestinian social media.

In the wake of a close rerun election in which the Joint Arab List was the third-largest party, Palestinian citizens of the Palestinian Authority who live in Judea and Samaria are demanding the PA follow suit and finally hold elections. 

Jonathan Elkhoury, a Lebanese Christian who now proudly lives in Israel, tweeted the surprising trend on Palestinian social media.

Palestinians living outside of Judea and Samaria are Israeli citizens and have complete civil rights including the right to vote. In yesterday’s election, the Joint Arab List received almost 430,000 votes and an estimated ten seats in the Knesset. This has been true throughout the history of modern Israel. The first Knesset included three MKs from an Arab party called the Democratic List of Nazareth, while a fourth Arab MK was with the Israeli Communist Party (more commonly known by its Hebrew acronym, Maki).

This stands in sharp contrast to Palestinians who live in neighboring Arab countries. Honest Reporting described their plight: 

“The roughly 700,000 Arabs who fled to neighboring countries [in 1948]— the first Palestinian refugees — came under the administration of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Neither Syria nor Lebanon never offered citizenship to any Palestinian refugees or their descendants. Egypt offered citizenship to 50,000 Palestinians with Egyptian mothers — in 2012.”

In the wake of the Oslo Accords and as a step towards autonomy, Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria began voting in their own elections in 1994. 

Mahmoud Abbas was elected President of the Palestinian National Authority in January 2005, for a four-year term ending in 2009. The last elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council were held in January 2006. There have been no new elections either for president or for the legislature since these two elections; democratic elections in the State of Palestine since these dates have been for local offices only. Abbas is now in the 14th year of a four year term in office.

Hamas was elected by the Palestinians to run Gaza in 2006. Elections were supposed to be held in 2012 but did not take place. 

A recent article in JNS by Sean Durns in response to an article in the Washington Post illustrates that it is the PA and not Israel which is preventing  Palestinian elections as well as their nationalist aspirations: 

“A Sept. 16 Washington Post editorial asserted that Netanyahu’s election would end the possibility for a Palestinian state. But in hundreds of words, the newspaper failed to mention that it is the Palestinian Authority, which hasn’t held elections in more than a decade and is ruled by an actual dictator, that refused U.S. and Israeli offers for statehood and peace in 2000, 2001 and 2008, among other instances. And it is the P.A. that has refused to quit paying salaries to those who carry out terror attacks, atrociously referred to as ‘Palestinian resistance’ by Kagan in his Post piece.