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TRNN reports from the Jewish Voice for Peace National Meeting in Baltimore where activists say the occupation of Palestine will continue whoever wins the upcoming Israeli election

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JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: We’re here at the 2015 Jewish Voices for Peace conference in Baltimore. Hundreds have gathered from across the United States, Israel, and Palestine to discuss how to promote peace, equality, respect for international law, and how to end the occupation of Palestine using the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement to advance those goals. It’s just days before the Israeli elections, and final polls show Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trailing in those elections. We spoke to participants to discuss the implications of this upcoming elections for Palestinians, as well as the ongoing negotiations with Iran. LIAT ROSENBERG, DIRECTOR, ZOCHROT NGO, ISRAEL: There isn’t much difference between left and right in Israel today, and so, therefore, the result of the election will be meaningless, I think. BASEM SBAIH, CAMPAIGN FOR THE DEFENSE OF PALESTINIAN REFUGEE RIGHTS, BADIL: For us, for Palestinians in general, we don’t think that the elections will bring any solution for Palestinians and for the discrimination that they are facing inside such a country. NOOR: But some, like former Israeli military whistleblower Eran Efrati, say Palestinians might actually be worse off if Netanyahu loses. ERAN EFRATI, INVESTIGATIVE RESEARCHER INTO THE ISRAELI MILITARY: If the left and delivers and its party will win, it will be worse for the Palestinians, I think, if the mask will stay on and will not get off. And I think Netanyahu is doing a great job in taking off the mask and showing the rest of the world that we need international pressure right now, we need the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement right now. This is the moment in history to pressure the state of Israel to leave their colonial ways and to give Palestinian freedom. NOOR: Efrati also argues, if a left coalition takes power, it may even take a more aggressive stance to Iran than the current regime. EFRATI: In a lot of ways I’m very not optimistic, I’m very pessimistic about the idea of a negotiation with Iran with this left party. This left party will need to make sure that everybody understand that they’re very tough, they’re very tough on security, and they’re keeping the same line. They will probably be worse for negotiation. NOOR: We spoke to Israeli Liat Rosenberg and Palestinian Basem Sbaih, who are currently touring the United States to raise awareness about the right of return for Palestinians. I started by asking them why they feel the outcome of the upcoming Israeli election will have little impact on securing the right of return for Palestinians. ROSENBERG: In the most left-wing parties in Israel, the issue of Palestine pre-’48 and the issue of refugees is completely neglected, ’cause the issue of the right of return is perceived by Israeli society to be the end of Israel as we know it today, the end of the Jewish state. So it’s really a nonissue in most part of Israeli societies. So it’s a nonissue in the election as well. And this is why you can see many Israeli activists that are not participating in the elections, because it’s a sold game. ~~~ NOOR: Netanyahu has come out and said there will be no two-state solution. SBAIH: Well, if there will be no state solutions, which–we also advocate for the one-state solution, but a one-state solution or two-state solution, it doesn’t matter. What matters here is the equality between people, the indiscrimination, the policy that accepts all, not Jewish-only, but also Palestinians, in one state. But I do not think that Netanyahu is advocating for one-state solution. He is advocating for the transfer of Palestinians from that country. And we are focusing on their plight and trying to show that any peace process in the future that ignores the rights of Palestinian refugees and IDBs will not succeed. And this is exactly what happened over the years of the peace process. NOOR: So because they’re not in any future peace process. SBAIH: Well, they are not participating. Their voice is not heard it all. What we are trying to do is to integrate the work and the voice of Palestinian refugees in any future reconciliation of the conflict. NOOR: And that includes even the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. They’re not–. SBAIH: Yeah. Well, the Palestinian Authority and the PLO is part of our aims here. We are–not attacking them, influencing them, in order to accept and to listen to those who are–voice is not heard. ROSENBERG: I’m a bit pessimistic regarding what kind of power could have within the current regime of Israel and the political game. So I think that only a really radical change within the political regime of Israel could lead to a change. Any other is just playing within the same ground rules or within the game itself. ~~~ NOOR: Look out for more coverage from The Real News of the Jewish Voices for Peace conference in Baltimore. With Jennifer Ashwell, this is Jaisal Noor.


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Jaisal is currently the Democracy Initiative Manager at the Solutions Journalism Network and is a former TRNN host, producer, and reporter. He mainly grew up in the Baltimore area and studied modern history at the University of Maryland, College Park. Before joining TRNN, he contributed print, radio, and TV reports to Free Speech Radio News, Democracy Now! and The Indypendent. Jaisal's mother has taught in the Baltimore City Public School system for the past 25 years. Follow him on Twitter @jaisalnoor.