Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory

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ballot boxTel Aviv, January 23 - One of Israel's founding political parties now faces electoral decline as the country's electorate drifts rightward, but believes it can counter or stave off stagnation by compromising on what has become a tenet of its ideology in the last three decades: the party may accede to right-wing rivals over the annexation of territories now under military administration under the condition that any Arabs living there be required to vote for them.

Labor and its antecedents ruled uninterrupted from the first parliamentary elections in 1949 until 1977, but the failure of its flagship initiative, the Oslo Accords, to end Palestinian terrorism, doomed the center-left party to decline ever since. Separation from the bulk of the Palestinian population beyond the 1949 Armistice Line continues to represent an important element of Labor's platform, while behind closed doors, party operatives concede that their vision of a negotiated final status agreement remains a pipe dream as long as the Palestinian leadership incites to violence and refuses to conduct good-faith negotiations, a fact that renders the party's vision unappealing to a polity weary of rosy promises amid bloody reality.

That shrinking popularity has now led Labor stalwarts to consider backing a proposal by several nationalist lawmakers: the Oslo Accords established Palestinian self-rule over 90% of the Palestinian population in places designated A and B, but a significant number remain under Israeli military rule, in places designated Area C. The proposal calls for establishing Israeli sovereignty over Area C to make it part of Israel proper, with Palestinians there permitted to apply for citizenship. Labor would seek to forestall electoral decline by stipulating any such arrangement would guarantee that those new citizens vote Labor.

A Labor official speaking on condition of anonymity because the party has not publicly changed its stance touted the benefits of such a deal for the Palestinians fortunate enough to thus gain Israeli citizenship. "Palestinian autonomy was supposed to include democratic elections," he observed, "but there hasn't been a legislative election in the Palestinian Authority in more than ten years, while Abu Mazen just started the fifteenth year of his four-ear presidency. Granting those tens of thousands of new citizens the right to vote for us would constitute a significant upgrade in their access to democracy."

"This falls neatly in line with our democratic tradition in Labor," the official added. "We've been saying for years and years that only our political camp cares about democracy, and no system can truly consider itself democratic unless we're in power."

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