If the Palestinian population of Israel starts voting, it will happenby Jay Elwes / October 22, 2015 / Leave a comment
Yair Lapid is head of Israel’s centrist Yesh Atid party and member of the Israeli Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. Speaking to reporters today, he commented that the wave of violence that has swept across Israel in recent weeks has been “Isil-like.” The uncoordinated string of attacks on Israeli citizens, predominantly knife attacks by Palestinian individuals acting on their own, has come apparently from nowhere.
The violence has led Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, to remark that the Holocaust was inspired by Palestinian clerics, among them the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. “I don’t think it’s suitable that on foreign soil I will criticise my Prime Minister,” said Lapid when asked about Netanyahu’s reaction to the troubles.
Lapid is deeply concerned about the state of relations between Israel and the Palestinians. He is an advocate of the Two State Solution, under which Israelis and Palestinians would agree on the borders of a Palestinian homeland. A failure to arrive at such a solution could prove disastrous for Israel, warns Lapid.
“If you look at Jerusalem in which there are 350,000 Palestinians that have Israeli IDs, so far they’ve decided never to vote in Jerusalem’s municipal [elections],” Lapid told me today. “But let’s say they tell themselves, ‘ok, there’s no way they are going to give us our own state, we’ve got tired of waiting,’ and they will vote. And I am telling you then we are going to have a Palestinian mayor in Jerusalem.”
How likely is that scenario? “Very likely,” responded Lapid. A Palestinian mayor of Jerusalem would bring Israeli politics to a point of crisis. The city of Jerusalem is intimately bound up with Israel’s sense of nationhood. The capture of the Western Wall by Israeli forces during the 1967 Six Day War remains a defining moment in the nation’s history and any sense that Israel’s control over the ancient city had been diminished would be a huge blow.
There would be other, more practical consequences. The mayor has substantial control over the…