‘Normalizing the occupation’: PLO calls for boycott against Arab-Israeli list in local elections

The Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), called for a boycott on Sunday of the participation of “All Its Residents” city council list, headed by Arab woman Sondos Alhot, who is running for the Jerusalem City Council, according to Israeli media reports.

“The participation of a Palestinian list in the occupation’s municipal elections in Jerusalem is a shameless normalization that serves the plans of the occupation,” read the announcement of the Palestinian National Council, calling for a boycott of the list and its people.

“The Israeli occupation municipality in Jerusalem is committing crimes against our people, including the demolition of houses and the intensive construction of illegal settlements, as part of a plan for the gradual forced displacement of Palestinians, therefore one should not participate in the elections since it is a ‘fig tree’ in the process, and being marketed as ‘democratic,'” the statement said.

Sondos Alhot, the Arab candidate and head of the “All Its Residents” list, responded: “We do not flinch or give in to threats and attempts to terrorize us. The Arab public in east Jerusalem wants change and understands that the way to achieve it and correct discrimination is through representation.” 

She added that “There is a growing willingness of more and more Arab residents in Jerusalem to make a change and vote this time in the city council elections in order to bring an Arab voice into the municipality, and apparently there are those who are afraid of that. We, as lovers of equality, Arabs and Jews, must not stop believing and working so that there will finally be Arab members in the council Jerusalem Municipality. It is possible and requires a final commitment from all of us.”

An Israeli man casting his ballot on the day of Israel’s general election in a polling station in Rahat, Israel November 1, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

The list, which seeks to represent the residents of east Jerusalem in the city council, petitioned the district court on Sunday against the Interior Ministry and the national commissioner for elections against the holding of the elections this coming Tuesday, claiming that according to an inspection they carried out, no voter notices were sent to the residents of east Jerusalem, or to Alhot herself.

The petition claims east Jerusalem voters face unfair barriers to voting access

It was also claimed in the petition that the locations of the polling stations on the municipality’s website appear in the Hebrew language only. “It is impossible to ignore the difficult feeling of the residents of east Jerusalem that voter notices are not sent to them deliberately in order to make it difficult for them to exercise their elementary right to vote for the municipality,” the petitioners claim.

In response, the Interior Ministry said: “The notices to voters have been sent to all residents with the right to vote, including in east Jerusalem. The distribution continues today and tomorrow. In addition, every resident can locate the polling station where they are registered using the election portal, which is also detailed in Arabic.”