This article was originally published on March 27, 2017 on Canada Talks Israel Palestine.
On the morning of Sunday, March 19, Israeli tax authorities barged into the home of Omar Barghouti, the prominent Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for the freedom, justice and equality of the Palestinian people. They detained and interrogated Omar and his wife Safa for 16 hours that first day. Omar has subsequently undergone at least four more days of interrogation.
The charge against him is “tax evasion”. Israeli authorities claim he has accumulated over $700,000 over the last decade and “hidden it in a Ramallah” bank. It’s hard for an outsider to know whether there is any basis for this, although it would seem surprising that Ramallah banks are not under close surveillance by Israeli authorities. Some commentators have suggested that arresting Barghouti for tax evasion is a safer route for Israel than an outright arrest for political activity.Read more
There was no shortage of surprises and last minute twists with the recent Israeli elections. Many on the left were disappointed to see Netanyahu’s Likud party come out on top again, with the likely result that Netanyahu will form the governing coalition. Despite the overall bleak outlook for Palestinian human rights under Netanyahu, there are some otherwise important observations to be made.
1) Netanyahu won, in part, because he formally ditched the two-state solution:
The day before Israelis went to the polls, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in an interview that there would be no Palestinian state while he was in office. His statement is in stark contradiction to his supposed support of the two-state solution, which he advocated for very publicly in a 2009 speech at Bar Ilan University. [i]Read more