Israeli 2019 elections: Meet the candidates

Exposé prepared by PLO / Ramallah/ 

On 9 April 2019, Israeli citizens go to the polls. Aside from the progressive Meretz party, the ailing Labor party, and Palestinian Israeli parties, all other competing lists oppose Palestinian rights, reject the two-state solution, and have vowed to ensure that the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and freedom are quashed.

In this context of hostility against Palestinian rights, candidates and party lists have engaged in a fierce competition on who can be more aggressive against the Palestinian people, which party can exact more violence, and which party list or coalition is more capable of preventing the realization of Palestinian rights. To that end, this Israeli elections season has been infested with racism, Islamophobia, incitement to violence, open calls for murder, and other gravely worrying signs of anti-Palestinian hatred.

This exposé explores the platforms of the various Zionist parties competing in the upcoming elections specifically on Palestine and Palestinian rights. It demonstrates that the only issue Israeli parties agree on is how to deny the Palestinian people their rights.

The parties are listed in accordance with their forecasted ranking according to the latest poll, conducted by Ha’aretz on 3 April 2019.

Likud Party:

“A Palestinian state will endanger our existence.”
Benjamin Netanyahu, party leader.

  • Palestinians cannot establish a state, only a form of limited autonomy.
  • Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory must be strengthened and expanded.
  • Jerusalem is the “eternal united capital” of the state of Israel and only of Israel.
  • The Jordan Valley and surrounding areas will be Israel’s eastern border.
  • Palestinian refugees have no right of return.

Blue and White Party:  

“We will strengthen the settlement blocs and the Golan Heights, from which we will never retreat. The Jordan Valley will remain our eastern security border.”
Benny Gantz, party co-founder

  • Palestinians have no right to national self-determination in historic Palestine.
  • Israel will separate from Palestinians without withdrawing from the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
  • Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory must be strengthened.
  • A united Jerusalem as Israel’s “eternal capital”. The Jordan Valley will be Israel’s eastern border. Palestinian refugees have no right of return.

Labor Party:

“Our job is to separate from the Palestinians on the basis of a two-state solution with us responsible for security.”
Avi Gabbay, leader of Labor

  • Supports a two-state formula that ensures “Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state” through a regional agreement.
  • Israel must annex “settlement blocs” in the West Bank. Jerusalem must remain under Israeli control.
  • To ensure that Jerusalem remains capital of the “nation- state of the Jewish people”, fate of Palestinian residents in City’s refugee camps must be decided by referendum. Israeli settlement blocs must become part of Israel.

Union of Right Wing Parties: 

– Jewish Power party

“Not all the Arabs are disloyal, some of them are loyal and I extend a hand of peace to them. But anyone who is not loyal should not be here in this country.”
Itamar Ben Gvir, leading member

  • Palestinians don’t have the right to establish a state.
  • Israel should annex and establish sovereignty over occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories.
  • Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank must be expanded.
  • The enemies of Israel [Palestinians] must be expelled to Arab countries.
  • Jerusalem must be exclusively under Israeli control, including the Aqsa Mosque Compound.

– National Union:

“I call for reconquering Gaza and dismantling all the armed forces. To open the door for immigration, and we can do that in cooperation with  other countries and Europe. This is part of my broader vision; to prevent the establishment of any Arab entity between the river and the sea.”
Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the party

  • Palestinians must not be allowed to establish a state of their own.
  • Israel should annex occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories.
  • Jerusalem is only Israel’s capital and it cannot be shared. Palestinian refugees have no right of return

– Jewish Home Party: 

“When the Israeli government seeks a ceasefire instead of a victory, it creates the next round.”
Rafi Peretz, head of the party

  • Palestinians cannot establish a state of their own. Israel must maintain and fight for its “Jewish identity”. Israel’s borders will span from the banks of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea
  • Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital and shall never be divided
  • Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory must be maintained and strengthened.
  • Palestinian refugees have no right of return.

United Torah Judaism (UTJ) Party headed by Yaakov Litzman:

No declared positions on the Palestine question. Party voted against the Oslo Accords and exit from the Gaza Strip.

Identity Party:

“Everybody understands that the Oslo Accords and the two-state solution are nonsense.”
Moshe Feiglin, party leader

  • The Land of Israel is from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and “belongs to the people of Israel by Divine choice”.
  • Palestinians have no right to a state.
  • Israel must be the only sovereign in Jerusalem and Islamic Waqf must be expelled.
  • Jerusalem must include Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jericho and surrounding settlements.
  • Israel must retake the West Bank and Gaza Strip then offer Palestinian “survivors of the conquest” option to leave or remain without civil rights.

New Right Party: 

“These processes take time to ripen. At the moment, the annexation plan looks like science fiction, but I think that slowly, gradually, people will see what’s going on in the Middle East and realise that it really could happen.”
Ayelet Shakid, co-founder of the party

  • Palestinians must not be allowed to establish a state of their own.
  • Israeli settlements must be maintained and strengthened, their population doubled.
  • Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and only of the Jewish people.
  • Israel should annex “Area C” (60% of the West Bank). Jerusalem must remain under Israeli control.
  • Palestinian refugees have no rights to return.

Shas Party:

Party headed by Aryeh Deri, co-founded by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, known for his racist views, including, “Those evildoers, the Arabs — it says in the [Talmud] that God is sorry he ever created those sons of Ishmael” .

  • Palestinians do not have the right to establish a state of their own.
  • Israel is the Jewish people’s state and Jewish identity must be preserved.
  • Jerusalem must remain under Israeli control. Israel must find answers to diplomatic questions in Jewish law.

All of Us Party: 

“I think it’s time to annex the settlement blocs.”
Moshe Kahlon, party leader

  • Israel must annex settlements and Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem (60% of the West Bank).
  • Jerusalem must remain under Israeli control. Palestinian refugees have no right to return.
  • The party supports a two-state formula with annexation of most of the occupied West Bank.

Meretz Party: 

“Peace will ensure Israel’s security and it is the interest of the two peoples. The path to peace is negotiating a two-state [solution].”
Tamara Zandberg, party leader

  • Advocates ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and reaching an agreement with the Palestinian side, based on the Arab Peace Initiative.
  • Settlement construction in the occupied West Bank must stop.

Israel Our Home Party: 

“Peace will come with the Messiah, not before. There’s no way we can have peace with the Arabs around us…peace like in Finland or Canada. That won’t happen.”
Avigdor Lieberman, party leader

  • The solution to the conflict must include transfer of Palestinian Israelis to Palestinian entity (“populated territories exchange”).
  • Minorities in Israel must pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state and deny Nakba.
  • Jerusalem is only Israel’s capital, it cannot be shared.
  • Palestinian refugees have no right of return