PSC Statement on the Israeli election results and Palestinian resistance to Israel’s continuing oppression
The Israeli election has brought into government a far-right racist and homophobic bloc. Many media reports in Britain and some pro-Israel groups have presented this outcome as a wholesale departure from the norm of a functioning liberal democracy. The reality is that Itamar Ben-Gvir and his far-right racist party represent the unvarnished face of a system of rule which meets the legal definition of apartheid and arises from a foundational ethnic nationalism, which privileges the rights of Jewish citizens over those of the indigenous Palestinians.
Within such a system, it is a given that racist discourse and understandings will be normalised and mainstreamed. Given that an opinion poll from 2015 found that 48% of the Israeli electorate would support the expulsion of Palestinian citizens of Israel, it should surprise no one that in this environment, politicians who publicly espouse such views would be elected. Israel’s ability to maintain a racist system of domination over a people, the Palestinians, who choose to resist it, depends on the regular use of violence to enforce that system.
During the period leading up to the recent Israeli election, a now familiar dynamic has unfolded: Israel has intensified its attacks on Palestinians, as Israeli political leaders compete to show voters who will be most violent in maintaining Israel’s system of illegitimate control over Palestinian lives.
In the past month, Israel has been undertaking a sustained assault on Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, killing more than 30 people in a systematic programme of targeted assassinations and drone warfare. As always, Palestinian civilians, including children, are not spared in this relentless military assault.
Israel also imposed a siege on the already occupied cities of Nablus and Jenin, and on the Palestinian refugee camp of Shu’fat in East Jerusalem. This has introduced a new layer of terror on already occupied areas, in acts of collective punishment, restricting the freedom of movement of tens of thousands of Palestinians, including many requiring urgent medical treatment. The election did not bring an end to this brutality, with Israeli forces invading Jenin on the day after polling killing another two Palestinians, one of them a child.
This intensification of violence has occurred in a year in which the Israeli military has killed more Palestinians in the West Bank then in any year since 2014, with more than 170 killings to date, including more than 30 children. Meanwhile, the siege on Gaza continues, including frequent military assaults.
Israel has justified its violence against Palestinians with the familiar narrative of “ensuring the security of its citizens.” Predictably, but shamefully, much of the UK media, including the BBC, has adopted this narrative line, erasing the context of decades of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, and framing Israel’s violence as a response to Palestinian attacks on Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Also missing from the media coverage of recent events is the fact that, in accordance with international law, Palestinians have a right to defend themselves against Israel’s military occupation, including through armed resistance. This is a right that extends to all peoples faced with illegal occupation, a right which our government has been correctly keen to assert in the context of the Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s illegal occupation.
Just as the wanton violence used by the Russian state to maintain its occupation of Ukraine is illegal, so is Israel’s use of violence in enforcing occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid. Political leaders in the UK must recognise that the right to resist illegal occupation in accordance with international law must be upheld consistently—for Palestinians as well as for Ukrainians.
We send ongoing solidarity to the Palestinians continuing to assert their right to return, to liberation, and to self-determination, and continuing to resist Israel’s brutal violation of these rights. We call upon the media to tell the truth about the nature of the violence being visited upon Palestinians and its location within this broader system of oppression.