The apparent comeback of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the dramatic rise of his far-right and ultra-Orthodox allies in Israel’s general election this week have prompted little more than shrugs from many Palestinians.
“It’s all the same to me,” Said Issawiy, a vendor hawking nectarines in the main al-Manara Square of Ramallah, said of Netanyahu replacing centrist Yair Lapid and poised to head the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.
Over the past month, Issawiy had struggled to get to work in Ramallah from his home in the city of Nablus after the Israeli army blocked several roads in response to a wave of violence in the northern West Bank. “I’m just trying to eat and work and bring something back to my kids,” he said.
Some view the likely victory for Netanyahu and his openly anti-Palestinian allies, including ultranationalist lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir who wants to end Palestinian autonomy in parts of the occupied West Bank, as a new blow to the Palestinian national project.
The sharp rightward shift of Israel’s political establishment pushes long-dormant peace negotiations even further out of reach and deepens the challenges facing 87-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas, whose autocratic Palestinian Authority already seemed to many Palestinians as little more than an arm of the Israeli security forces.