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As Netanyahu Heads for Reelection, Palestinians Decry Vote to 'Entrench and Expand Apartheid'

"Regrettably, Israelis overwhelmingly voted for candidates that are unequivocally committed to entrenching the status quo of oppression, occupation, annexation, and dispossession in Palestine."

Prime Minster of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, greet supporters during a post-election speech on April 10, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images)

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly poised to win reelection by a razor-thin margin after a campaign filled with overt anti-Arab racism, voter suppression tactics, and extremist promises—such as his last-minute vow to annex the West Bank—Palestinian officials decried the election outcome as a vote to "entrench and expand apartheid."

"The extremist and militaristic agenda, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has been emboldened by the Trump administration's reckless policies and blind support."
—Hanan Ashrawi

"Regrettably, Israelis overwhelmingly voted for candidates that are unequivocally committed to entrenching the status quo of oppression, occupation, annexation, and dispossession in Palestine and escalating the assault on Palestinian national and human rights," Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a statement Wednesday.

"They have chosen an overwhelmingly right-wing, xenophobic, and anti-Palestinian parliament to represent them," Ashrawi added. "The extremist and militaristic agenda, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has been emboldened by the Trump administration's reckless policies and blind support."

Speaking anonymously to the Associated Press, an aide to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas echoed Ashrawi's assessment, saying the election outcome is a victory for the "extreme right-wing camp" in Israel.

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As AP reported, Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party tied his opponent Benny Gantz's centrist Kahol Lavan party, with each winning 35 seats.

"Together with his current Jewish ultra-Orthodox and nationalist partners, Netanyahu seemed to have a clear path toward building a coalition government that has a majority in the 120-seat parliament," according to AP.

Netanyahu's apparent victory with over 97 percent of the votes counted came amid "historically low" Arab voter turnout, as the Likud party reportedly paid to place 1,200 hidden cameras at polling stations in Arab communities, sparking a swift legal complaint.

"The Palestinian people will overcome this dark and highly dangerous chapter and remain deeply rooted in our homeland," Ashrawi concluded. "We are a resilient people and we will persist and forge alliances with like-minded and responsible international actors to create a counterbalance to the dangerous and reckless agenda and its adherence among other racist and fundamentalist governments, particularly in Israel."

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