While there has been widespread coverage in the United States regarding the recent election in Israel, there has been almost no reference in the media on the fact that some 4.3 million Palestinians who inhabit the Israeli- occupied West Bank, land that is legally entitled to them, have no say in the voting process that directly affects their lives.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live throughout the other Israeli- occupied cities are also denied a voice, despite being inhabitants of those regions for generations. Alternately, recent Israeli settlers of those areas are granted voting privileges. “The few hundred Israeli settlers living amongst a mass of Palestinians, in a city like Hebron, have a greater say in determining the policies of the government that is impacting, directly, the lives of Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Whereas the Palestinians themselves have no say in the system, at all,” argued Yusef Munayyer, Executive Director of the Palestine Center. While recent settlers of Israel are treated and recognized as Israeli citizens, Palestinians who have lived there for generations upon generations are not; they remain discriminated against and treated as second- class citizens.
Ethnicity and religion also play a role in the inequality and voting injustice that Palestinian citizens receive. “You could move to a depopulated Palestinian village where the headstones of the ancestors of refugees still stand, and have more rights to that land than the ancestors of those buried there… simply because you are of the Jewish faith and they are not,” Munayyer explains, speaking of the rights one has based on their religion. What Palestinian citizens are faced with is a regime that ultimately determines the rights and access they have based on their ethnicity and religious background; a system, which Yusef Munayyer believes, should not be welcomed in the twenty-first century.
Title: Denying Palestinians a Voice,”
Author: Dennis J. Bernstein
Consortiumnews, January 25, 2013.
Student Researcher: Amy Gill, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Noel Byrne, PhD, Sonoma State University