Rana Baker
Last updated: 20 October, 2012

Gaza and the elections: do they really matter?

On October 20, municipal elections were held in the West Bank. If anything, these elections are deepening the division between Gaza and the West Bank, governed by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA), respectively.

Gaza is not participating in the elections. And to make it even worse, the majority of the Gaza population is not aware of what will form in the West Bank after the elections. As if Gaza and the West Bank are two different and distant entities. Ridiculously enough, what is implicit in these elections is this: whatever happens in the State of the West Bank neither affects nor is affected by what happens in the State of Gaza, and vice versa. While the PA continues to work on the so-called institution-building, Hamas has begun a training program for diplomats.

Meanwhile, our outdated leaders, both prime minister Ismail Haniyeh and president Mahmoud Abbas, spare us no opportunity to show off fake dedication to a clinically dead “national reconciliation.” Of course, Hamas took it upon itself to withdraw from the elections, and the PA now boasts about its “well-intentioned” elections that were supposed to “unite” the Palestinians, but alas, it’s Hamas’ fault that they withdrew from that.

The thing is: we Gazans, a considerable segment of the Palestinian society, no longer believe in our leadership. It has become crystal clear that none of both governments is interested in the reconciliation. After all, both will be worse off if it materializes, so why should they?

But really, what do these elections mean anyway? They are meaningless. Even if Gaza and East Jerusalem were to be included, even if the Palestinian population in 1948 Palestine (modern-day Israel) was included, they are still meaningless. And you are wondering why.

The vast majority of the Palestinian people is scattered around the world. Prior to Israel’s establishment, and under the auspices of imperial Britain, Zionist gangs like the Haganah and Stern Gang underwent an ethnic cleansing operation in Palestine the result of which was the expulsion of over 700,000 of the indigenous Palestinian population. With the natural growth, Palestinians refugees now number about six million.

Nowhere in the world do these Palestinians have the right to elect their leaders, and, in many parts, they are still mistreated by Arab and non-Arab governments. The best example is Lebanon.

Treating the vast majority of the Palestinian people like air and voting in elections that do not take them into account amounts to ignoring their right to be represented. Second, voting in such elections means that the Palestinians who live within the borders of Palestine no longer care about the fate of the majority who still demand their right to return in accordance with UN resolution 194.

Palestine is getting smaller and smaller. When West Bank elections are referred to as “local,” this means that Gaza is no longer part of this locality. We must pay more attention to the language being used and not fall prey to terms used extensively by corporate-funded mainstream media.

As a Palestinian, I’m willing to boycott any elections, no matter how important, that exclude the most significant segment of the Palestinian people. This segment – the refugees – is the core of the Palestinian question. And no compromises on earth can abolish their natural right to be represented.  

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of Your Middle East.