“Ben-Gvir will put things in order here,” a number of campaign signs of the Religious Zionism party proclaimed on the road from El-Khader to Batir east of Bethlehem. The signs, with a picture of his same self-satisfied face but with a different slogan, “Ben-Gvir is the rightest there is,” could be seen too in the Hebron area on the eve of last week’s elections.
A lot fewer signs with Ben-Gvir and more with Bezalel Smotrich adorn the more northern part of Route 60, between Hizmeh and Ramallah. As far as can be seen from the signs, Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party is in second place. Other right-wing parties (including the Haredi ones) are in the minority.
Even if Smotrich and Ben-Gvir’s Religious Zionism party, with its racist Kach-inspired roots, had not passed the electoral threshold – and irrespective of the number of Knesset seats it won – it has, in its various incarnations, long been the reigning force in the West Bank. Mostly, it rules the indigenous Palestinian population, which does not have the right to elect the true rulers, who shape, change and endanger their lives and future.
For example, the large space between Ramallah and Bethlehem has been shaped for the past 25 years as Greater Jerusalem – an urban monster filled with expanding and growing roads that bring the settlers of even the most God forsaken outposts closer to the capital and which shortens their travel time. This same road network blocks existing roads, distances the Palestinian communities from one another, and completes the splitting of East Jerusalem and its being cut off from the rest of the West Bank. This is the settler dream that has been fulfilled, and those who have fulfilled and are fulfilling it are the pan-Israeli state institutions, supported by the taxes of the entire Israeli public.
Whoever rules the West Bank rules in Israel. This is not a heavenly decree, but this is what was already decided by the Labor-Meretz-Shas government when it tied the Oslo Accords to the settlements and conditioned implementation of the agreement on the sustainability and welfare of the settlements.
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With the joining of forces of the settling state institutions and settler organizations, more and more red lines were crossed when it comes to international law, the takeover of land, uprooting of Palestinian communities and establishment of an apartheid regime. The entire Israeli Jewish public accepted, became used to and profited from this same systematic violation of international law, under the auspices of the Oslo negotiations.
The best evidence of the enormous power of the government of Judea and Samaria is the lack of any discussion during the latest election campaigns of the power of the Judea and Samaria government, and its being a semi-governmental, half-privatized branch that dictates to the two peoples living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea a future of growing violence.