The first roundtable discussion of the year hosted by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and its partner, the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA), was held on February 12th, 2019.
The Roundtable dealt with the topic of “The Upcoming Israeli Elections – Change on the Horizon?”. The two experts providing an input for the discussion were Dr. As’ad Ghanem, Senior Lecturer at the School of Political Sciences of the University of Haifa, and Diana Buttu, Palestinian lawyer and analyst and former adviser to the PLO negotiating team.
The speakers elaborated on the development of the thriving Israeli right and the implications on the situation and possibilities of the Palestinian electorate in Israel. It was emphasized that the political right will likely be a dominant force in Israel for the foreseeable future. Moreover, the speakers discussed political agendas of candidates for the upcoming Israeli elections and contextualized it with a review of traditional right-wing politics in Israel in historic perspective. Touching on the topic of relevant parties in Israel, especially the Likud, political representation of different societal groups was discussed and led into a debate of voter representation, voter turnout and the Joint Arab List. The latter’s relevance, among other things, derives from their ability to represent the interest of the Palestinian minority in Israel and provide a platform to voice concerns and influence political agendas.
Given this important role of Palestinian parties, a critical reflection on their common agendas as well as their differences ensued. Most importantly, it was stressed that for effective representation of the interest of Palestinian Israelis, individual interest of particular candidates would have to be balanced and set aside in order to achieve a common political goal.
A lively exchange with the audience ensued, in which questions of political representation and participation, as well as the viability of a two-state-solution were discussed.