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May 18, 2015

The Nakba - 67 Years On - in Poetry

The Nakba—the Palestinian people’s violent and catastrophic displacement in 1948—is seared in the Palestinian collective memory, and its ramifications have defined all Palestinians’ lives whether in the West Bank, Gaza, inside Israel, or the diaspora. This tragedy has also found expression in all Palestinian arts and cultural endeavors. During the twentieth century, and especially after 1948, Palestinian poets and writers, musicians, visual artists, and others engaged in cultural expression have reflected the sentiments of loss, displacement, and nostalgia as well as of dignity, defiance, and steadfastness in their work.

On this day we commemorate the Nakba and remember all those who have suffered and continue to suffer the injustices perpetrated against the Palestinian people. We salute the many poets whose writings and sensibility communicate the Palestinians’ myriad experiences of loss and steadfastness. Here are a few poems to commemorate the Nakba. Send us your recommendations and we will add them to this list (email: .

“On This Land” by Mahmoud Darwish (read live, with Trio Joubran in the background)

“On the Trunk of an Olive Tree” by Tawfiq Zayyad

“The Deluge and the Tree” by Fadwa Tuqan
Author bio: (same page)

“Exodus” by Taha Muhammad Ali

“How Palestinians Keep Warm” by Naomi Shihab Nye

“A Picture of the House at Beit Jala” by Ghassan Zaqtan

“Even” by Nathalie Handal

“Nakba Day” by Remi Kanazi

“Mimesis” by Fadi Joudah


The Destroyed Villages of the Nakba: Mahmoud Darwish on Visiting Al-Birweh after 1948

al birweh
The destroyed village of Al-Birweh, from Walid Khalidi's All That Remains

The Palestinian literary figures Mahmoud Darwish and Samih al-Qasim, known primarily for their poetry, explored the genre of letter writing during 1986-88 on the pages of Al-Yawm al-Sabi`, an Arabic language cultural magazine published in Paris. The 29 letters they wrote to each other were compiled into a book, Al-Rasa’il, and published in Haifa (Arabesque Publishing House, Ltd., 1989)[i].

In one of the letters, dated 3 June 1986, Darwish narrates to al-Qasim what he encountered when he returned to his village, al-Birweh, after the 1948 war. Al-Birweh was one of over 400 villages that were occupied and destroyed or depopulated by the Israeli forces in 1948. Many of the former inhabitants of these villages live in refugee camps to this day.

This is an excerpt of the letter that narrates Darwish’s account of his return to al-Birweh:

“My dear Samih:

…I remember the house’s courtyard with a mulberry tree at its center, which pulled the houses together to form a home, my grandfather’s home. We left everything as it was: the horse, sheep, bull, open doors, hot dinner, the adhan [call to prayer] of suppertime, and the lone radio—perhaps it has stayed on until now to broadcast the news of our victories. We went down into the valley that swerves and leads to the southeast, opening to a wellspring in a meadow that led us to the village of Sha`b—this is where my mother’s relatives live and where her family members were arriving from the village of Damun, which fell to the occupation. There, after a few days, the farmers from the nearby villages gathered, those who sold their wives’ gold, to buy French-made rifles to liberate al-Birweh.

They liberated it early in the evening. They drank the occupier’s hot tea and slept the first night of victory. The next day, the “salvation army” took it over without interruption, then the Jews re-occupied it and destroyed it to the last stone. And now we wait on the heights of the homeland, we wait for the return.

You know the whole story, Samih. The “excursion” of the emigrants became too long and the war was shortened. You know how we “infiltrated” back from Lebanon when my grandfather realized that the journey would be a long one, and that he must get back to the land before it slipped away. When we arrived we found only destruction. We lost the right of residence and rights to the land.

When I performed the first pilgrimage ritual to my original village, al-Birweh, I found only the carob tree and the abandoned church, and a cowhand who spoke neither clear Arabic nor broken Hebrew.

“Who are you, sir?”

“I am from Kibbutz Yas`ūr,” he answered.

I said, “Where is Kibbutz Yas`ūr?”


“Here is al-Birweh,” I said.

“Where is al-Birweh?”

I said, “Here. Under us. Around us. Above us. Here and everywhere.”

He said, “But I don’t see anything, not even stones….”

“And this church...don’t you see it?”

He said, “This is not a church. It is a stable for cows. These are some Roman ruins.”

I said, “And from where did you come, sir?”

“From Yemen.”

“And what are you doing here?”

He said, “I am returning to my country.” Then he asked me, “And where are you from?”

I said, “I am from here...I am returning to my country.”

This, my dear Samih, is how the debate has flowed for almost forty years. Notice the contradictory, transformative, and absolute meanings of the words! In the best of times, we are guardians of Roman ruins. Therefore, we had to live in Dayr al-Asad, close to you, as refugees in a homeland that, by divine decree, was reserved for two thousand years for the return of a cowhand from Yemen!....

Your brother,

Mahmoud Darwish

[i] There is no published translation of these letters; this translation is by Zeina Azzam.

Apr 29, 2015

Pernille Ironside on Life in Gaza Eight Months After the 2014 Conflict

The wars and humanitarian disasters unfolding in Syria, Yemen, Nepal, the Mediterranean basin, and so many other parts of the world have eclipsed the dire situation in Gaza. Israel’s 51-day bombardment of the 140-square-mile strip of land in the summer of 2014 left a devastated population living in poverty, instability, and the ruins of their homes and neighborhoods. To make matters worse, the economic blockade and closure of Gaza since 2007—as well as wars in 2008-9 and 2012—have made any steps forward a near impossibility.

Pernille Ironside assessed the situation in Gaza as “a massive human catastrophe.” She was in Washington, DC, on 28 April 2015, meeting informally with representatives of non-governmental organizations that have a special interest in the region. She added, “At this rate and according to the UN, by 2020, Gaza will become unlivable” as a result of the ravages of conflict and the continuing closure and de-development of the territory.

Ms. Ironside should know well—she is Chief of the Gaza Field Office for UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), a post she has held for nearly two years. She spent most of the 51 days of Israel’s 2014 military campaign in the Gaza Strip leading UNICEF’s efforts to protect children and their families seeking shelter from the bombing. UNICEF also provided them with immediate coping skills, distributed non-food items to internally displaced persons in partnership with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, offered access to safe drinking water through water tankering and emergency repairs to the water network, and supplied hospitals with medical consumables and life-saving drugs for children.

The statistics on the children of Gaza, in particular, as a result of the conflict are jarring: 539 dead, 3,364 injured, 51,600 homeless, and 373,000 needing psychosocial support. Indeed, she said, the children there feel “a strong sense of hopelessness and helplessness.” Because most of Gaza has not been rebuilt or cleared of rubble, they see the destruction daily—a constant reminder of the horrific experiences of 2014. In addition, the loss of many family members means that these children are coping with profound grief. Nearly half the children in Gaza suffer psychological distress. Engaging children, particularly adolescents, in meaningful after-school programs in their communities is critical for their well-being and for restoring their sense of personal agency and choice in a context where most youth feel disempowered.

The majority of schools in Gaza—those left standing—now operate in double or triple shifts. Ironside says that an additional 200 schools are needed now, with another 200 to be built by 2020. There are electricity blackouts for up to 16-18 hours per day, having ramifications on all aspects of everyday life from food preservation to doing homework and using any kind of electric devices.

An important aspect of her work, Ironside noted, is bearing witness, advocating for the protection of civilians, and documenting grave violations perpetrated against children. She said, however, that the same factors that led to the escalation before the 2014 conflict have not yet been resolved; until addressed, the risk remains very high of another war in the future. “A political solution is needed to bring this long-standing conflict to an end, and enable children on both sides of the border to live in peace and security,” Ironside concluded.

Apr 13, 2015

Illegal Settlements and Settler Violence

The June War of 1967 (“Al-Naksa”)

In order to understand the legality of settlements, it is important first to appreciate the historical significance of the June War of 1967, also known as the Six Day War. After launching a military campaign against Egypt, Israel began its occupation over the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. Then, in response to a retaliation from Syrian and Jordanian forces, Israel conquered East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nablus and remaining lands in the West Bank and Golan Heights - land it still occupies today.

Brief History of Settlements

  • Following the June War of 1967, Israel’s major political parties at the time, Labor and Likud, supported the establishment of the first settlements built by the Labor government from 1968 to 1977, “with the explicit objective to secure a Jewish majority in key strategic regions of the West Bank.”
  • One of the first areas where settlements were first constructed was on land expropriated from Palestinians in Hebron. Many of the settlers who came to Hebron believed that “Israel's victory the prior year [June War] was an act of God which indicated divine providence that the historic Land of Israel should be restored to the Jewish people.”
  • It wasn’t until 1977, when Menachem Begin was elected Prime Minister, that his government provided financial incentives for Jews to move to settlements in the West Bank, in order to solidify Israel’s hold on that specific territory: “that was part of biblical and historical Israel and preempt the creation of a Palestinian state.”
  • Israel settlers today continue to move into the West Bank for economic and sometimes political incentives.
  • Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land has continued unabated since 1967. Settlement building increased, as has the building of an extensive road network for use exclusively by settlers.

What are Illegal Settlements?

According to the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR), a settlement is “any residential area built across the Green Line, the 1948 ceasefire line between the newly established state of Israel and its Palestinian/Arab neighbor.” After the June War of 1967, Israel began building settlements on the land it occupied, namely the West Bank. According to Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Conventions, it is illegal for an occupying power to transfer a civilian population from occupied territories in order to promote its own settlement. Likewise, Article 43 of the Hague Regulations mandates that the occupying power “take all the measures in its power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.” Further, United Nations Resolution 242 stipulates that Israel withdraw “from territories occupied in the recent conflict” as well as “respect territorial integrity.” Israel has continued to build settlements in the occupied West Bank. As the continuation of settlement-building has not ceased, Israel continues to violate international law.

Settlement Building in Numbers
According to B’Tselem, by the end of 2012, there were “125 government-sanctioned Israeli settlements in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem and settlement enclaves within Hebron)”;  additionally, there were “approximately 100 ‘settlement outposts’ located throughout the West Bank.” The number of settlers in these illegal settlements is estimated to be over 600,000 and as of 2014 (including East Jerusalem) and Israel recently announced that it would be building an additional 1,400 houses in occupied territories. This number is expected to grow, according to Housing Minister Uri Ariel, who hopes that by 2019 the number of settlers will grow by at least 50 percent. The numbers continue to increase each year.

Settler Violence

Some suggest that settler violence has been increasing due to several factors: “The growth of the settler population over the past generation, the diversification of religious and ideological strands among it, and the sense of betrayal felt by settlers following Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.” Others believe that extremist views and polarization in the settlements are growing and this, combined with heavy arms easily available to settlers, fosters a climate of hatred and aggression against defenseless and unarmed Palestinians. Many demand that the acts of violence and destruction be labeled as terrorism, as terrorism is intended to “produce a psychological effect, terror, as a means of advancing a political agenda.” The growth of the settler community over the past few decades has also created a “hilltop youth” culture: these settler youth who seem to exhibit little care for Israeli civil laws and perpetuate violence against the Palestinian communities. They are believed to number in the thousands and they view any type of Palestinian residence in the West Bank as an “obstacle to God’s will.” Settler violence has also increased by 150 percent since 2009 according to the United Nations.

The violence is almost always marked with the words “price tag” in Hebrew, signifying the ideology of targeting “Palestinians, pro-peace Israelis, and Israeli soldiers alike for supposedly anti-settlement measures.” It is widely believed that after the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza (which also uprooted Jewish settlers), a radical fringe group believed the Israeli government could not be trusted, and decided to take matters into their own hands. Since the Second Intifada, the Israeli government has done very little about the violence directed toward Palestinians. Because of this, there has been very little demand for disciplinary action against these violent groups and they largely go unpunished for their actions.

Settler Violence in Numbers:  1 January - 1 April 2015

Settler violence constitutes harm perpetrated against Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories by Israeli settlers. The Palestine Center has been diligently recording settler violence on a daily basis since 2004. From the start of January 2015 alone, we have found that there were:

  • 79 assaults on Palestinians, including:
    • 7 targeted hit-and-run attacks - including 5 children ages 5-16
    • 42 assaults that required hospitalization as they were “victims of beatings with sticks, iron pipes and knives” and occasionally, gunfire and Molotov cocktails
    • 11 instances of settlers opening fire indiscriminately into crowds
    • 5 attempted kidnappings of children
    • 59 intrusions and assaults on Al-Aqsa mosque during times of worship
  • 73 instances of destruction of property, including:
    • 7,475 olive trees uprooted and destroyed
    • 32 acres of private land leveled and destroyed
    • poisoning, running over, or stealing of livestock
    • 48 instances of raids on homes and agricultural land

Since January 1, 2015, there have been 228 instances of some type of settler violence against Palestinians. This averages out to around 2.5 forms of aggression every day. A daily account of settler violence as well as military violence, raids, and detentions can be found here.

In response to these attacks, the Israeli military and police forces have done very little to curb settler violence against Palestinians. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that only around 8.5 percent of investigations are brought to indictment, whereas around 85 percent of investigations are closed due to some type of “internal police error.”

Isn’t Violence Just Physical?

The short answer is no. Violence can be emotionally or agriculturally directed as well. For instance, the daily military-protected raids on Al-Aqsa mosque communicate that Palestinian Muslims do not have religious freedom or protection when worshiping. These assaults on Al-Aqsa include provocation of Palestinian worshipers in the third holiest site of Islam. Many Israeli settlers believe the destruction of Al-Aqsa is paramount to upholding Zionist history. The provocations occur on a daily basis and these confrontations ultimately lead to Israeli forces firing tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets at Palestinian Muslims. In all 44 instances of these clashes which occurred this year, Israeli settlers were under the protection of Israeli forces. A recent court decision mandated that Israelis be protected by Israeli forces when storming al-Aqsa. This has severe psychological repercussions and also presents serious threats to freedom of religion. The result is that worshiping almost guarantees having to confront the presence of hate speech, threats, tear gas, and rubber bullets, and offers no protection to Palestinians and their right to worship. Religious persecution is not limited to Muslims in Palestine. On February 26, 2015, Israeli settlers set fire to a church building in Jerusalem and spray-painted anti-Christian slander on the church walls

Agricultural damage is violence as well. According to the OHCHR, olive trees and agriculture are the sources of income for over 100,000 Palestinians. The damage to land and olive trees is tremendous: “For example, a damaged 50 year old olive tree requires five years to bear fruit again and 20 years to produce a significant level of production.” In our research, one of the most egregious instances of olive tree destruction was on 1 January, 2015, when Israeli settlers uprooted 5,000 trees in one day belonging to the Hadbah, Hamza, and Hijaz families in Ramallah. With one olive tree estimated to be worth $750 USD, the damage done to olive trees in the West Bank, since the beginning of 2015, is estimated to be over $4.6 million.

    According to the United Nations Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, Palestinians reported the psychological effects they experienced included “feelings of frustration, fear and insecurity, eating and sleeping disorders, anxiety, aggressiveness, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other behavioral problems.” Additionally, the UN reported a testimony from a Palestinian villager regarding the effect of settler violence on children: “children can’t think of anything else but settler violence. They fear settlers and keep thinking of how they can escape and hide when settlers attack. Even their games are affected: children play ‘Arabs and settlers’ by throwing stones at each other.” Additional effects of violence on children include bed-wetting and panic attacks.

International Response to Settler Violence

  • UNRWA (USA) currently has a campaign to Stop Settler Violence based on reports from the OCHA stating, “Eighty to 90 percent of cases opened against settlers are closed without any prosecution at all.” Even if the settlers who committed a violent act are released, which is often, they are sentenced with a very light punishment, or none at all.
  • UNRWA (USA) also has a campaign called the Olive Tree Initiative through their Job Creation Program. This program helps provide Palestinian refugees in the West Bank with meaningful employment that gives back to their communities. Specifically, in response to constant agricultural damage due to settler violence, some of the jobs have workers trim the trees that have been burnt by settlers and also plant new trees to replace those destroyed by settlers, ultimately helping Palestinian farmers safeguard their livelihoods.

Further Reading:
Update on Settler Violence in the West Bank; United Nations Human Rights

Settler Violence in the West Bank: A Decades-Long Reign of Terror on Unarmed Palestinians

Why is Israel Still Blind to Settler Violence Against Palestinians?

U.S. Media Erase Israeli State and Settler Violence

Settler Violence: It Comes with the Territory

Settler Violence and Israeli Incitement

Mar 18, 2015

Israeli Election Results 2015: What Does This Mean?

netanyahu victory
Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party claim victory in the 2015 election.

Last night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party won Tuesday’s parliamentary elections, scoring 30 seats in the Knesset, compared to the Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog, which gained 24 seats, and the Joint List (an Arab Israeli coalition of parties) which gained 14 seats. Many were not expecting the Likud party to win again and have described the right-wing victory as an upset. This win solidifies Netanyahu’s fourth term as prime minister; he will soon make history as the longest-serving prime minister of Israel since David Ben-Gurion.

Earlier this week, while the Likud party was trailing in the polls, Netanyahu made the bold statement that “A Palestinian state would not be established on his watch if re-elected,” (Source) in order to appeal to and bolster the right-wing vote. The Arab turnout at the polls was higher than expected, leading Netanyahu to declare that the Arab population benefits from “distorting the true will of Israeli citizens toward the left and giving excessive power to the extreme Arab list… the rule of the right is in danger.” According to the Jerusalem Post, “People who have not voted in years—or at least not for Likud—felt the need to save Israel from the Left, Iran and from a hostile international community.” By making heavily politicized statements late in the campaign, the right-wing Likud party was once again able to solidify its majority power in the Knesset.

Palestinian Responses

Although the Joint List, an Arab Israeli coalition, was able to gain a small number of seats in the Knesset, unsurprisingly, the Palestinian response toward Netanyahu’s victory has been less than thrilled. Sabri Saidam, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, stated that Netanyahu’s rejection of any establishment of a Palestinian state proves that “Israel has chosen apartheid rather than peace, thus bringing an end to the peace camp in Palestine.” A senior Fatah official was recorded as stating, “A vote for Netanyahu and the right-wing parties is a vote against peace and for more war and bloodshed.”

Likewise, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat stated the results show “the success of a campaign platform based on settlements, racism, apartheid, and the denial of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people.” (Source).

The results of the election and Netanyahu’s continued denial of rights of sovereignty for the Palestinian people strengthen Palestinian leaders’ case against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

Feb 26, 2015

Israeli Elections 2015: A Further Look at the Candidates

On 17 March 2015, Israeli citizens will be taking to the polls as their votes are expected to reflect a shift in national conservatism to a more moderate governmental policy. Current Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu recently fired top officials within his government as a result of the many disagreements within the coalition, resulting in a parliamentary decision to dissolve the government and hold elections earlier than their usual date.

Each party has certain policies towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, varying from extreme Zionist (opposing the creation of an independent Palestinian state) to more moderate stances (including a two-state solution). As explained in our previous post, these political stances enacted by political parties help us to understand how these upcoming elections marginalize Palestinians and hinder their role in the vote.

The elections are now less than a month away and there is strong implication of a possible shift in political ideology. This shift can ultimately cause moderate opposition-coalitions to replace Israel’s current conservative faction which would allow moderates to gain more seats and a louder voice in parliament.

Just like our article on the 2013 elections, we have laid out all prominent parties and their candidates for this year’s election. We have highlighted specific quotes each candidate has said on various issues including, but not limited to: settlement policies, a Palestinian state, a Jewish state and the pending peace process.


The Likud Party, founded and united in 1973, is currently Israel’s ruling conservative party headed by Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. In regards for a policy of a two-state solution, there have been very few Likud members who were openly in favor. Several members have called for a formal annexation of the West Bank and have proposed harsh measures to deal with Palestinian demonstrators. The Likud also emphasizes the belief that “peace can only come when groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah are dismantled.”  (Source)

Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister)

On settlement policies:
"Israel must never relinquish security control over the West Bank and that if re-elected I will not evacuate settlements during my term." (Source)

Gilad Erdan (Interior Minister of Israel)

On Palestinians:
"The Palestinians are stubborn opponents who have chosen a path of war and lies against Israel." (Source)

Yuli Edelstein (Speaker of the Knesset)

On the creation of a Palestinian state:
“I don’t think it is a great idea to create a Palestinian state that we may have to attack a year from now because it will be an unlimited source of terrorism the way the Gaza Strip is.” (Source)

Yisrael Katz (Ministry of Transport and Road Safety)

On Jerusalem:
“Ideology cannot be changed like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. We are in a struggle for the Land of Israel, for the essence of our existence here. We must tell the U.S. we have red lines we will not cross.” (Source)

Miriam ‘Miri’ Regev (MK)

On African refugees in Israel:  
“[They] are a cancer in the body [of Israel].” (Source)

Silvan Shalom (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee and Minister of Energy and Water)

On settlement freezes:
“If the Palestinians leave the [peace] talks, it will be clear that [settlement building] is just an excuse.” (Source)

Moshe Ya'alon (Defense Minister of Israel)

On the two-state solution:
"You can call it the new Palestinian empire. We don’t want to govern them, but it is not going to be a regular state for many reasons." (Source)

Ze'ev Elkin (MK)

On 1967 borders:
"To all those who are now making proposals for Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, there is only one reply: The 1967 borders are Auschwitz borders! The only reply that Likud government should give to such proposals is: No!" (Source)

Danny Danon (Chairman of World Likud)

On the 2014 Gaza war:
"I would still say the ceasefire was a mistake.” (Source)

Yariv Levin (MK)

On Palestinians in Israel:
“We will use an iron hand and demonstrate zero tolerance of Arabs who are liable to identify with the terror of the Palestinian state.” (Source)

Benny Begin (Former MK)

On Palestinians:
“I think any second state of any nature, another sovereignty west of the Jordan River, especially when it comprises the PLO or Hamas, would negate or contradict two basic rights of the Jewish people and the citizens of Israel.” (Source)

Tzachi Hanegbi (Deputy Foreign Minister)

On relations with the U.S.:
"The dilemma is, how much can Israel insist and disagree and oppose this [U.S. deal with Iran], while simultaneously preserving our wonderful, intimate relationship with the U.S." (Source)

Yuval Steinitz (Minister of Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic Affairs)

On 1967 borders:
“The demand for Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines, without holding on to the Jordan Valley, without defensible borders, without security control, and without the demilitarization of Gaza... is a recipe for collective suicide.” (Source)

Ophir Akunis (Deputy Minister in the Office of Prime Minister and Environmental Protection)

On the two-state solution:
“We are here to block [Abbas] and to block the establishment of a Palestinian state on the hilltops of Judea and Samaria. These are tracts of land that have been ours for 4,000 years.” (Source)

Tzipi Hotovely (Deputy Minister of Transportation, and Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Space)

On settlements:
“When radical Islam is rearing its ugly head, it is clear to all Israelis that the settlements of Judea and Samaria are not the problem, but the solution.” (Source)

Ayoob Kara (Former MK)

On Israeli Arabs:
"Druze see themselves as an integral part of the State of Israel, and Arabs want them to be a part of the Arab agenda." (Source)

Avi Dichter (Former Director of Shin Bet)

On Gaza:
“There is no other choice, Israel must carry out a formatting action in Gaza, actually format the system and clean it out, the way we did in Judea & Samaria during Operation Defensive Shield.” (Source)

Yoav Kish (Representative of Tel Aviv Area)

On Jerusalem:
“There is no doubt that my first and basic outlook is that, where there are Jews, it is Israel and where there are Palestinians – I don’t want them to vote for me.” (Source)

Miki Zohar (Representative of Negev Area)

On a Palestinian state:
"If a large number of citizens want a state, I am not opposed to it – as long as they know we are here to stay. My approach is that if someone attacks, you should respond tenfold. At the same time, if someone shows good will, I will give him tenfold more." (Source)

Anat Berko (Research Fellow, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism)

On a Palestinian state:
“We need to negotiate with them in good faith and see if there is a solution, which must be regional. Meanwhile, we need to rely on ourselves. We are still in a war of survival, in the war of independence that never ended.” (Source)

David Amsalem (Representative of Jerusalem area)
David Bitan (Representative of Southern Coastal Area))
Nava Boker (MK)
Gila Gamliel (MK)
Oren Hazan (Candidate and the son of former Likud MK Yehiel Hazan)
Haim Katz (Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee Chairman)
Nurit Koren (Candidate for Women’s spot)
Jackie Levi  (Representative of Galilee Area. He is also the son of former Foreign Minister David Levi and brother of MK Orly Levi-Abecassis of Yisrael Beiteinu)
Yaron Mazuz (A member of the City Council in the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Motzkin)
Avraham Nagosa (Candidate for Immigrant Representative)


Labor Party/ Livni (Zionist Union)

The Labor Party is the founding party of Israel, having controlled the political scene for the first 29 years of Israel’s establishment. The party is led by former Prime Minister Isaac Herzog, who has announced that the Labor Party is forming a coalition with Tzipi Livni’s party for the upcoming elections. The party supports a peaceful solution with Palestine and opposes the Jewish State Bill, which declares that Israel is the state of the Jewish people. (Source)

Isaac Herzog (MK and Chairman of Labor Party)

On a Palestinian state:

"Voting for Palestinian statehood may finally open the door for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, strengthen the possibility of a two-state solution, and greatly improve Israel’s position in the region and in the international community.”  (Source)

Tzipi Livni (Minister of Justice)

On a Palestinian state:

“It’s clear that the sovereign Palestinian state must accept limitations. Certainly demilitarization.” (Source)

Shelly Yachimovich (MK)

On peace talks:

“Ending Palestinian demands, ensuring security arrangements, relinquishing the [Palestinian] right of return, and recognizing Israel as a Jewish and democratic state must be an inevitable result of these talks." (Source)

Stav Shaffir (MK)

On peace talks involving Jordan and Egypt:

“I think that the Arab initiative is something we need to adopt (with minor changes) and bring the international community into that understanding. It is not only a conflict between us and the Palestinians.” (Source)

Itzik Shmuli (MK, Former chairman of the Israeli Student Union)

On Netanyahu and alliance with Livni party:

“It's no secret that Livni and I aren't on the same page in terms of ideology, but I felt more assured when she said that Labor would set the tone when it comes to the social agenda. After all, Bibi has been prime minister for six years and the country is going nowhere. This move offers an opportunity to topple Netanyahu – end of story." (Source)

Omer Bar-Lev (MK and Labor Party’s point person on peace and defense)

On the Netanyahu government:

“Netanyahu is currently playing tricks on the U.S. at the expense of Israeli interests.” (Source)

Hilik Bar (Secretary General of Labor Party)

On peace talks:

“Israel’s government should present a vision of peace that truly addresses not only our security and other needs but also the needs and the future of the Palestinian people.” (Source)

Amir Peretz (Previous Environmental Protection Minister)

On Netanyahu:
"Netanyahu went back to the extremist statements from his political past, showing he does not want a [peace] agreement. He’s not the solution, he’s the problem." (Source)

Merav Michaeli (MK and Former Journalist)

On negotiations:
"If you are negotiating in order to reach some result, then you have no interest in humiliating the other side, because [if you do so] you won’t achieve your result.” (Source)

Eitan Cabel (MK)

On Jerusalem:
“A united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and thus it shall remain with any future agreement [with the Palestinians], but Palestinian villages such as Issawiya and Beit Hanina aren’t really part of the city, and in the long term Israel’s clear interest is to transfer them to Palestinian control.” (Source)

Zouheir Bahloul (Former Sportscaster):

On destroying the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem:
“I want to rehabilitate relations between Jews and Arabs and establish true equality for all Israeli citizens.” (Source)

Danny Atar (MK)
Yoel Hason (MK)
Erel Margalit (MK)
Micky Rosenthal (MK )
Revital Sweid (MK)
Manuel Trajtenberg (MK)


Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home)

Yisrael Beiteinu follows Revisionist Zionism. There are three basic principles in their party: “1) Unity of Nation; 2) The State of Israel as the National Homeland of our People; and 3) No Citizenship Without Allegiance.” Yisrael Beiteinu views the State of Israel as a “miracle” of the Jewish people having their own homeland. They are unwavering regarding the right of Israel to remain a Jewish, Zionist state, and believe that the “Law of Return” does not conflict with Israel’s democratic vision. Yisrael Beiteinu claims to “stand without compromise” regarding Israel remaining a Jewish state.

Yisrael Beiteinu demands that Arabs living in Israel declare their allegiance to Israel and serve in their military. They also believe that anyone who observes Nakba Day is “something [to] fight practically and unequivocally,” and the only solution for Israeli-Arab relations is a two-state solution; deporting Palestinians who ultimately will not declare their allegiance to Israel. (Source)

Avigdor Lieberman (Minister of Foreign Affairs, previous Deputy Prime Minister of Israel)

On Operation Cast Lead 2009:
“We must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II. Then, too, the occupation of the country was unnecessary.” inferring that nuclear destruction is more feasible than continued occupation.” (Source)  

Sofa Landver (Minister of Immigrant Absorption)

On Right of Return:
“This is the state for the Jews.” (Source)

Ilan Shohat (Mayor of Safed)

On integration of Israeli and Arab Students:
"The Arab students, who from my point of view are the city's guests, don't completely understand how to behave in their host city." (Source)

Hamad Amar (MK, Serves in Finance Committee)

In response to Ahmad Tibi's accusation that Israel is a racist state:
“No one is going to deny that there are problems in the State of Israel, as there are in any state. However, the state has not created any laws that differentiate between peoples based on religion, nationality or background." (Source)

Robert Ilatov (MK)

On proposed legislation to ban the Muslim call to prayer:
"Hundreds of thousands of citizens in Israel, in the Galilee, the Negev, Jerusalem and other locations in central Israel suffer on a regular basis from noise that is caused by muezzin calls in mosques." (Source)

Alex Miller (MK)

On his reasoning for proposing anti-Nakba law:
"So either we want education for coexistence and peace, or we want pupils to be brainwashed and incited against [other] citizens of their state from an early age.” (Source

Shimon Ohayon (MK)

On a Palestinian state:
"The basic thing that the Palestinians need to do is recognize Israel as a Jewish State. This is the only Jewish State, so this condition is above and beyond all others. There is no problem for a Palestinian nation to find self-expression in other places.” (Source

Sharon Gal (Former Journalist)

 On Israel becoming a Shari'a state:
“This slow acceptance of Sharia, due to threats of violence, is merely emboldening and incentivizing the ongoing and heightening attempts to attack Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. We need to fight back.” (Source)

Shadi Halul (MK)

 On voting for Arab parties:
"All the Arab states discriminate and persecute the Christians and expel them, and we don’t want Arab control here. We want Jewish and democratic rule here.” (Source)
Shira Mistriel (MK)

On Settler Violence in a 2010 Facebook post:
"Smelly Arabs… for those who haven’t seen, there is a video on YouTube ‘An Arab is hit by a car.’ Have a great night.” (Source)

Orly Levi-Abekasis (MK)
Leon Litinsky (MK)

Yulia Melanovsky (Chairman of the Student Union for Ariel University)
Arcadi Pomerantz (MK)
Oded Porer (Former Director of the Ministry of Immigration Absorption)


Shas was founded in 1984 as an ultra-orthodox party, calling for Israel to “return the crown to the former glory” and to end discrimination against Sephardic Israelis. Shas believes Jerusalem to be non-negotiable in peace-talks and opposes a Palestinian state. (Source)

Aryeh Deri (Former Interior Minister)

On the peace process:
"We strive for peace, but not at the expense of Jews who can live in the land of Israel and realize their rights in the land of Israel.” (Source)

Yitzhak Cohen (Former Deputy Minister of Finance)

On refugees:

"The uprooted Jews' problem is equal to, if not greater than, the Palestinian refugees' problem." (Source)

Yitzhak Vaknim (MK)

On Jerusalem:
“I do not support negotiations with Jerusalem at all.” (Source)

Yaakov Margi (Former Minister of Religious Services)

On settlement freezing:
“Any talk on freezing (building) is a choke hold on the settlements. I hope that the [Netanyahu] will not freeze the settlements. There is no place for this, especially when there is no peace process. The decision not to allow building is immoral and inhumane.” (Source)
David Azoulay (MK)
Rafi Barnes
Haim Bitton
Yigal Guetta
Michael Malchieli
Avraham Michaeli (MK) co-sponsored a bill that would annex West Bank (Source)
Meshulam Nahari (Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance)
Yoav Ben Tzur (MK)


Ha’am Itanu (The People Are With Us)/Yachad (Together)

Ha’am Itanu is a far-right political party that emerged in late 2014 that seeks to politicize Judaism. (Source)

Eli Yishai (Former Minister of Internal Affairs)

On peace talks:
"There is absolutely no point… The Land of Israel needs to build and be built, period.” (Source)

Yoni Chetboun (Former Deputy Speaker)

On a two-state solution:

"... the Land of Israel belongs exclusively to the People of Israel because of our historic and biblical rights. We should not be embarrassed; it’s the truth." (Source)

Michael Ayash (MK)
Dudi Shwamenfeld (Former Radio Host)
Sason Treblesi (MK)
Aharon Tzohar (MK)


HaBeyit HaYehudi (The Jewish Home)

HaBeyit HaYehudi is a religious, right-wing Zionist political party that was formed in 2008 as the successor to the National Religious Party.” It is currently the fifth-largest political party in the Israeli Knesset. The basic platform of this party upholds the opposition to any creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and strongly states that Jerusalem is, “the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the state of Israel solely, and will not be divided.” The platform also supports the existence of settlements in the West Bank, remaining under Israel’s sovereignty, as they are important for the future and security of Israel. The Jewish Home says that it will “fight for the Jewish identity of the state on every level: culture, character, personal status, society and legislation, as a Jewish and democratic state. (Source)

Naftali Bennett (Leader of HaBeyit HaYehudi, Minister of the Economy, Minister of Religious Services)

On killing Palestinian prisoners rather than bringing them to trial:
"I’ve killed a lot of Arabs in my life… and there’s no problem with that.” (Source)

Uri Ariel (MK, Minister of Construction)

On settlements:

"Jerusalem will never again be divided. There are and will be no more freezes [on settlement construction], and we will not put up with the delays or restrictions [on construction] in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria." (Source)

Ayelet Shaked (MK)

On settlement policies:
"We should manage the conflict and not give up on any centimeter of land.” (Source)

Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (MK, Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs) 

On religion:

"The souls of all Jews are higher than those of Christians or Muslims or anybody else." (Source)

Nissan Slomiansky (MK, Knesset Finance Committee)

On Israel’s indirect funds to the PA:
"We have to defend ourselves. It's not just a game of money anymore. We are indirectly encouraging terror against ourselves and the murder of our citizens. We must stop this.” (Source)

Yinon Magal (Journalist and Editor of Walla)

"I’m not embarrassed to love the Land of Israel, the people of Israel and the Torah of Israel. The Bayit Yehudi [party] is my home." (Source)

Moti Yogev (MK)

"This is our home. And the more we accept this premise, the more other nations will accept us. We’re suffering from not knowing ourselves; the more we learn about ourselves and our collective history, the less we will be pressured into concessions to our enemies.” (Source)

Shuli Mualem (MK) 

On the Levy Report:

"Just as the Palestinians are running to The Hague, the Israeli government should approve as soon as the Levy Report [stating that the West Bank and Gaza belong to Israel]." (Source)

Avi Wortzman (MK)

On a two-state solution:
"The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. We oppose a two-state solution.” (Source)

Rabbi Avichai Rontzki (Candidate, Former IDF Chief)

On 2014 Gaza war:

"Troops who show mercy towards the enemy in wartime will be damned." (Source)

Orit Struk (MK, Founder of  Human Rights Organization of Judea and Samaria)

On suspension of peace talks:
"Stopping the negotiations is the most needed and obvious thing.” (Source)

Ronen Shoval (Founder of Im Tirtzu) 

On the Knesset:

"In order to maintain the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, we must work together against anti-Zionists who are working to destroy its Jewish-Zionist-democratic character." (Source)

Danny Dayan (Former Chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria)

On peaceful non-reconciliation:
"There should be zero tolerance for violence on either side.” (Source)

Anat Roth (Former Activist of Peace Now)

On a Palestinian state:

“The last decade shows us that the desire for peace was and remains a thing of the Israeli side only, and that the processes in the Palestinian Authority and around us show that an Israeli withdrawal from land will lead to the establishment of a terrorist state.” (Source)

Yehudit Shilat (Takana Chairwoman):

“Even if one third of the MK's will be secular, Jewish Home will still be a Religious-Zionist party.” (Source)

Bezalel Smotrich (Lawyer)

On a Palestinian state:

“When the Palestinians realize that they cannot achieve a state in the heart of Israel, they will not try to fight us to achieve it. The talk about a Palestinian state encourages them to terrorize us and push us toward this dangerous place, that will never happen anyways. If you want to cut down terror, you must cut down the hope that keeps it alive.” (Source)

Avishay Boaron (Candidate)
Nachi Eyal (Candidate, director-general of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel)
Rabbi Hillel Horowitz (filling Nir Orbach’s position upon his recent death)
Nir Orbach: (MK)
Moshe Solomon (Candidate)


Yesh Atid

Yesh Atid was formed in 2012 by former TV anchor Yair Lapid, attempting to reach out to middle class Israelis.  After his party won the second most seats in the 2013 elections, Lapid served as Minister of Finance under Netanyahu before the collapse of the Knesset late-2014. Yesh Atid’s main focal points are the economy, fighting political corruption, reforming the healthcare and educational system, as well as the rights and responsibilities that come with being a citizen of Israel.  They also believe in a “two-state two-people” ideology. (Source)

Yair Lapid (Minister of Finance, Former TV Anchor)

On Palestinians:
"We need to separate ourselves from the Palestinians. It is not marriage that I am seeking, it is a decent divorce.” (Source)

Shai Piron (Former Minister of Education)

On anti-settlement sentiments:

"[We] cannot continue to agree to limiting our great vision. For me, paradoxically, the vision of the Complete Land of Israel will strengthen the connection between our young people and the Land's borders." (Source)

Ruth Calderon (MK)

On Palestinians:
"I also believe in speaking to Palestinians. Even with those who fight us, discussion is meant to bring understanding and peace.” (Source)

Ronen Hoffman (MK) 

On peace talks:

"I think we should immediately go back to the negotiating table with the PA. I support Yesh Atid’s plan for a two-state solution. It was a mistake that Netanyahu’s government ignored the PA. As a result, Hamas got stronger. We should go back to speaking to the PA." (Source)

Dov Lipman (MK)

On Law of Return (aliya):
"The long-term strategic vision of increasing aliya from the West is a necessary one and a worthwhile investment for the State of Israel.” (Source)

Haim Yellin (Head of Eshkol Regional Council) 

On Gaza conflict:

“You have to finish the job in Gaza with demilitarization, or an agreement or truce; if not, then we have to eliminate them.” (Source)

Yaakov Peri (Minister of Science, Technology and Space)

On Netanyahu:

“I am convinced that the prime minister is damaging Israel's security. I say it day and night…He is hurting Israel's security and the safety of soldiers, as the Americans draw a link between their relationship with Netanyahu and the State of Israel and Abbas' moves at the International Criminal Court.” (Source)

Meir Cohen (Minister of Welfare and Social Services)
Karin Elharar (MK)
Ofra Finkelstein (MK)
Yael German (Minister of Health)
Yifat Kariv (MK)
Aliza Lavie (MK)
Mickey Levy (Former Deputy Minister of Finance)
Yoel Razvozov (MK)
Ofer Shelah (MK)
Zehorit Sorek (MK)
Elazar Stern (MK)
Pnina Tamano-Shata (First Ethiopian-Israeli woman in the Knesset)
Boaz Toporovsky (MK)