Four more years of occupation

חגי אלעד

Dear friends,

Like many of you, the results of this week's election in Israel weigh heavy on the minds of all of us at B'Tselem. Thus, I want to share some thoughts with you.

The election results show, loud and clear, that the voting public in Israel favors the ongoing occupation in its present form: a military rule that denies basic rights to millions of people, settlement expansion and its inverse the expropriation of Palestinian lands and the dispossession of its owners, and an entire occupation apparatus that entrenches two separate legal systems, unjust military courts, and a permit regime controlling most aspects of Palestinian life.

The verdict is crystal clear – as are the limits within which it was handed down. This week, millions of Palestinian subjects, living for more than two generations under Israeli control, again did not get to cast a ballot in an election that fundamentally impacts their daily lives and their future. As our spokesperson Sarit Michaeli noted several days before the election, in June 2017 - within the excepted term of the new Knesset - we will mark the 50th year of occupation.

Israeli election ballots. Photo: Amir Cohen, Reuters, 15 March 2015
Israeli election ballots. Photo: Amir Cohen, Reuters, 15 March 2015

This state of affairs persists largely because it is allowed, bearable, and cheap. Well – expensive and cruel to the Palestinians, but fairly convenient for Israelis. In fact, it is so convenient that the issue of the occupation hardly came up in the recent electoral campaigns. Change will only come either through new developments among Palestinians, a strategic shift in the largely occupation-tolerant international community, or the effective actions of Israelis who oppose the occupation.

We, the latter, have hard years ahead of us. We must address reality without euphemisms and deal with its implications. Within these hard and sobering election results, we now clearly know where the Israeli public stands. It would have been all too easy to continue the masquerade. Now that the masks are off, the ugly reality of indefinite military occupation is staring us in the face. We must return the gaze unflinchingly, voice our dissent loudly, and remember that the future is in our hands.

The fight against the occupation did not begin yesterday and will not end now. We, at B’Tselem, will continue our work. As you saw, we recently published upsetting footage of dogs being set on a Palestinian youth and night raids on Palestinian homes. We will continue to bring to light the daily aspects of occupation and to fight them undeterred. At the same time, we know that only ending occupation will end these injustices once and for all, and to that goal we are unwaveringly committed.

The occupation is here to stay. With your help, we are here to end it.

Sincerely,

Hagai El-Ad

Executive Director