Israeli Elections and Politics of Demography

By Dr. Haidar Eid and Neta Golan

After very close Israeli elections, many analysts seem to feel Likud head Benjamin Netanyahu will get the nod to form the next Israeli government. Though Likud lost to Kadima by a small number of votes, Likud’s right-wing bloc as a whole won a majority. Many in the international community are holding out hope that Tzipi Livni, the head of Kadima, will prevail and become Prime Minister because they view her as the candidate of peace.

In reality however, Livni, while speaking of negotiations, represents continuity with past Israeli policies of the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, just as Netanyahu does. Both Likud and Kadima will leave members of the international community who are committed to human rights with only one appropriate response – boycott. 

Tzipi Livni, was recently quoted in The Jerusalem Post warning that if Israel fails to initiate a peace plan after the elections, "We will get the Arab peace initiative." It is crucial to understand why Livni, who participated in leading Israel in its assault on Lebanon in 2006 and on Gaza in 2009, is threatened by an offer from the Arab world to normalize relations with Israel if it withdraws from the territories it occupied in 1967 and agrees to a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem in accordance with UN Resolution 194.

The Kadima party that Livni heads was created by Ariel Sharon to implement an Israeli so called "peace plan" based on unilateral separation.

Sharon explained to the Jewish Agency assembly on 28 June 2005. "We are withdrawing from the Gaza Strip – an area in which there is no chance of establishing a Jewish majority…At the same time, we are directing the majority of our efforts to the most important areas to ensure our existence – the Galilee, the Negev, greater Jerusalem, the settlement blocs and the security zones."

The disengagement from Gaza was phase one in the Kadima’s agenda of separation. The second unfulfilled phase is the West Bank "realignment" or "convergence plan".

In November 2005, Tzipi Livni, then justice minister, stated that Israel’s illegally-built separation wall would serve as "the future borders of the state of Israel," contradicting Israeli claims that the wall was a temporary security measure. More than 385,000 settlers, roughly 80% of Israel’s settler population, live west of the route of Israel’s Apartheid wall, and in the Jordan Valley (also referred to as the Security Zone). Palestinians are systematically denied access to the areas west of the Apartheid wall as well as the Jordan valley, while settlers can access them freely and are constantly being moved into them.

If the areas west of the Apartheid wall and the Jordan Valley are annexed to Israel, Palestinians will be left with three land locked islands in the West Bank. The "realignment plan" involves moving settlers out of these islands and into the "settlement blocs" unilaterally. Israel could then repeat the strategy used in Gaza and declare that it was no longer occupying the areas from which it withdrew despite the fact that it retains control over these areas. This would allow Israel to besiege and punish any future West Bank resistance in same way it has besieged and punished the Gaza Strip. This is Kadima’s version of a "peace plan".

In order to understand the context of Israel’s unilateral separation policy it is crucial to acknowledge that more than 70% of the million and a half people concentrated in the Gaza strip are refugees, expelled from their homes in 1948 from what is now Israel. Their expulsion was "necessary" at the time for the Jewish population of Palestine that constituted a estimated 33% minority to create a "Jewish Democracy".

But many Jewish Israelis feel that the Jewish demographic Majority in Israel is still threatened. Israeli historian Benny Morris lamented in Ha’aretz-13 (16 January 16 2004) that: "if Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion (in 1948) and cleansed the whole country – the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan river… If he had carried out a full expulsion – rather than a partial one – he would have stabilized the state of Israel for generations"

Whether run by Livni or Netanyahu, in order to break Israel’s demographically motivated cycle of ethnic cleansing Israel must be held accountable for its actions. The 2009 Israeli massacre in Gaza runs parallel to that of the 1960 Sharpeville massacare in South Africa which led to the intensification of the boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against the Apartheid regime.

To counter international complicity with Israel’s crimes, an intensified grass roots BDS campaign against Israeli apartheid is needed. In Apartheid-era South Africa, the BDS campaign ultimately led to the creation of a democratic, multi-racial, multi-cultural state in South Africa. Likewise, the BDS campaign against Israeli apartheid must result in a unitary state where all citizens will be treated as equals.

– Professor Haidar Eid is a Palestinian resident of Gaza. He is an associate professor of cultural studies based in Gaza, co-founder of the one democratic state group ( and steering committee member of Palestinian campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel PACBI ( He contributed this article to; Neta Golan is an Israeli activist. She is a Co founder of the International Solidarity Movement (

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