Reluctance to participate in local government elections in Israel and low voter turnout (Al Jazeera)

Occupied Jerusalem -

Similar to the political and partisan map in the Knesset, the results of the local government elections in Israel showed the gradual rise in the power of the extreme right and strengthened the influence of the Haredi movements and religious parties in more Israeli municipalities.

Five months after the war in Gaza and the security escalation with Hezbollah on the border with Lebanon, and four months after it was postponed for the first time, the local government elections were supposed to represent a kind of return to normal life for Israelis.

But the decrease in the voting percentage reflected the state of frustration and confusion in Israeli society, as the war disrupted the electoral campaigns and forced a large number of candidates to serve in reserve for 8 months in the Gaza Strip, leaving everyone in a state of uncertainty.

Zabarqa: A strong presence of the extreme right and the Haredim on the local Israeli political map (Al Jazeera)


In a preliminary reading of the results of the Israeli local elections and a review of the voting patterns that were affected by the shock of the “Al-Aqsa Flood” on the 7th of last October, the reluctance of Israeli society appears, as the participation rate stopped at 49% compared to 60% in 2018.

However, voting patterns show the bias of Israeli society towards the extreme right, especially the Haredi, as well as the subjective nature of programs and agendas that carry hostility towards Arabs and Palestinians in the mixed coastal cities and occupied Jerusalem.

The results of these elections carry within them messages and an indicator of the general political mood among Israelis, which intersects with the strengthening of the influence and strength of these extremist groups represented by the Haredi parties "Shas", "Degel HaTorah", "Yehovat HaTorah", "Jewish Greatness" and the "Religious Zionism" coalition.

The composition of the occupation municipal council in Jerusalem, which is controlled by various extreme right forces and Haredi movements that have a majority, reflects the transformation that even the largest Israeli towns are witnessing, with the emergence of the role of religious movements and extremist groups in local government, and their growing power within Jewish society.

These extremist groups seek to expand their mass and popular base among Jews, in order to increase their representation in the Knesset, to further control the reins of central government and implement their plans, which are summed up in giving the Jewish character the biblical character, settling all of historic Palestine, and deporting and displacing Palestinians.

The head of the Popular Committee in Lod, lawyer Khaled Zabarqa, who specializes in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa issues, says that the most prominent change in the results of the Israeli local elections is the noticeable decline in the participation rate and the strong presence of the extreme right and the Haredim on the local political map.

Regarding the elections in occupied Jerusalem, which were boycotted by the Palestinian population, Zabarqa pointed out to Al Jazeera Net that the voting rate reached 31.5% among Jews, which reflects the general reluctance of Israeli society to participate in these elections.

Al-Hamouri: The extreme right’s control over the occupation municipality will escalate the existential battle against the Palestinians in Jerusalem (Al-Jazeera)

Palestinian awareness

Lawyer Zabarqa pointed out that the Jerusalemites’ boycott of the occupation’s municipal elections indicates the political awareness of the Palestinian population, and the failure of the occupation authorities over 5 more decades to break through the consensus that boycotted and refused to participate in the elections.

He added that this reluctance emerged among the so-called Zionist left movement and the center camp, compared to a high participation rate in the ranks of the extreme right camp and the Haredi religious movements that follow the herd culture and comply with the instructions of the rabbis calling for going out to vote.

Zabarqa attributed the high voting rates among the extreme right and the Haredim to the system that is active among them, and relies on local leaders and rabbis who impose a system of work, implementation of procedures, and implementation of programs and agendas that serve their projects and future plans by completely controlling the joints of government, and displacing the Palestinians, whether in Jerusalem or in the territories of 1948.

He explained that these transformations and developments indicate that the democratic system in Israel does not exist, as the changes have led to the creation of a reality that is exploited by religious movements and extreme right-wing poles, and used to control, acquire, dominate and influence the levers of central government.

In turn, the director of the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights, lawyer Ziad Al-Hamouri, explained that since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, there has been a consensus to boycott the elections, and a general feeling among Jerusalemites that it is an occupied municipality and cannot address the issues of the Palestinian population, provide them with the simplest services, and grant them even the lowest rights, and that it is a tool for expansion. Settlement is a source of demolition and displacement.

Al-Hammouri confirmed to Al-Jazeera Net that Jerusalemites cannot participate in the occupation’s municipal elections, which involve demolition, confiscation of land, fine-tuning, imposition of high taxes, and deprivation of basic services, saying, “There is a complete conviction that, even if the Palestinians are represented in Jerusalem as a strong bloc in the municipality, there will be no "They can influence even the simplest things."

Attention is turning to the Israeli occupation municipality in #Jerusalem today, Tuesday, with the opening of ballot boxes for municipal and local council elections in “Israel,” amid scholarly and popular consensus to boycott the elections and prohibit participation in them.

For more: yrL4HyBhBM

- Al Jazeera Net |

Jerusalem (@Aljazeeraquds) February 27, 2024

Escalating the battle

The Palestinian human rights activist pointed out that the results of the occupation municipal elections in Jerusalem reflect the pivotal changes taking place in Israeli society, which is moving towards the extreme right, unanimously supporting and continuing the war on Gaza, and showing open hostility and showing feelings of revenge for everything Arab and Palestinian.

The same speaker believes that no Jerusalemite can participate in the occupation’s municipal elections or be a partner in the municipal council, which is dominated by the proposal of the Deputy Mayor, Aryeh King, the godfather of settlement and the maker of plans to displace Jerusalemites and replace settlers in their place, as he fights the Arab presence in the occupied city through racist and discriminatory measures, and relies on Occupation policies to reduce the number of its Palestinian population.

Al-Hamouri warned of the repercussions of the far-right’s control over the occupation municipal council on the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem, pointing out that all the occupation municipalities - even those that were affiliated with the Zionist left over the course of 55 years - deliberately employed all kinds of violations related to the daily and existential life of Jerusalemites.

However, Al-Hammouri says, “The influence and penetration of the extreme right and the ultra-Orthodox right in the occupation municipal council will lead to an escalation of the existential battle against the Palestinians in Jerusalem, especially since 80% of them are drowning in debt due to the Arnona tax (a tax on roofs such as homes, commercial establishments, warehouses, etc.), without receiving the slightest amount.” Municipal services.

It is likely that the occupation authorities' plan revolves around confiscating Palestinian homes, real estate, and institutions under the pretext of not rescheduling debts to the occupation municipality, which are allegations to seize the properties of Jerusalemites and displace them.

Source: Al Jazeera