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Ramallah sees little hope for change amid expected Israeli elections

Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad, left, visits Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad, left, visits Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

The Palestinian Authority reacts with indifference on Tuesday to the apparent collapse of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid’s so-called “change government,” with officials saying they expect little progress on peace regardless of who sits in the Israeli prime minister’s office.

“The question is — will we see a political horizon? I don’t believe we will see a dramatic change, whether Netanyahu, or Lapid, or Bennett is in charge,” says senior Palestinian official Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of the executive leadership of the Fatah party and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Bennett and Lapid announced the early demise of the fragile, fractious Israeli government on Sunday night, following months of coalition infighting. Coalition leaders aim to begin the process of dissolving the Knesset on Wednesday, with Lapid to be named prime minister of the interim caretaker government.

If lawmakers vote to dissolve the Knesset, Israel’s fifth elections in three and a half years will likely be held in October or November. The vote could see the return of long-ruling former premier Benjamin Netanyahu at the head of a hard-right coalition.

“We weren’t shocked by the fall of the coalition, of course. And whoever comes next will be much the same, whether Netanyahu or someone else,” says another senior Fatah official.

Al-Ahmad dismisses what the Bennett-Lapid government had offered the Palestinians as “crumbs.”

“We don’t want economic ‘achievements’ at the expense of a political process. That’s just unacceptable. Family unification, address changes — this is all immaterial. It doesn’t impact anything,” says al-Ahmad.

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