Top Palestinian Authority official and PLO member Mustafa Barghouti advocated Israelis vote for anyone but current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tuesday’s elections.
Barghouti, who also serves as General Secretary of the Palestine National Initiative, said in an interview with Hebrew-language NRG website last week, “We all truly desire that Binyamin Netanyahu fall and be replaced, and that his administration come to an end.”
Barghouti called the Netanyahu era a disaster for his people. “We are not interfering in the Israeli election, but we truly hope that Netanyahu will no longer run the government. The period of his rule was the darkest ever for Palestinians.”
Like the V15 campaign, which also aims to replace Netanyahu, Barghouti fell short of endorsing Netanyahu’s primary rivals, Labor party leader Yitzhak Herzog and his partner, Tzipi Livni, saying instead, “We have no expectations from these elections. The comments made by both Herzog and his partner Tzipi Livni that they will never compromise on Jerusalem and Gush Etzion are indications of their attitudes, which does not leave room for hope among us.”
Barghouti sits on the PLO’s central council and is considered to have been a leader of both the first and second Intifadas, or popular uprisings against Israel. From his perspective, and that of the PA, he says, Israeli society has shifted politically right, and it is reflected in the current election campaign.
“Most of the Zionist parties are using harsh expressions and the incitement has reached record levels in order to get voters. The only parties not acting in this manner are Meretz and the Joint Arab List,” he said.
Referring to the joint list, Barghouti called it the one positive development to come out of the current campaign. “[I]t will build more and better connections between Palestinians in the West Bank and in Israel proper,” he explained. “It is wonderful that they united despite the differences in ideology, and I see this as a historic move for Palestinians in Israel.”
The Israeli electoral system is based on nation-wide proportional representation, and some 30 parties run in any given election. Smaller parties are edged out of Knesset by the 3.25 percent threshold, which requires a party to attain at least that percentage of the vote to qualify for a seat. To avoid this, many smaller parties will band together during elections and run on a joint list. The electoral system also makes it nearly impossible for any party to gain a majority of the 120 Knesset seats, so governments are formed on a coalition basis.