More of the same: Palestinians see no change in Israeli elections
In the face of grim political prospects and ever-increasing physical and economic isolation, Palestinians in Gaza are reacting to the Israeli elections with indignant apathy.
Many see the outcome as a given, and consider the front-running Israeli parties to be essentially two sides of the same coin (even the number of seats won by Liberman's radical Yisrael Beytenu came as no surprise to most).
Abu Diyab Abu al-Awf, 72, lives in the al-Bureij refugee camp in eastern Gaza. "Each of the candidates is worse than the next as far as Palestinians are concerned," he said. "The only difference is, some are stronger and make certain pragmatic decisions, and some don't."
But ultimately, Abu al-Awf believes, "none has the interests of the Palestinians, or of a just peace, in mind".
Rami al-Mugheiri, a 31-year-old editor, said: "Past experience has taught us not to expect much from Israeli elections. Whatever leader will come to power, the most we will get is tough lengthy negotiations that mainly concentrate on marginal issues."
By way of example, al-Mugheiri referred to the elections in 2000, when Israelis voted Ehud Barak's Labour party into power. Barak was "nevertheless intransigent regarding the Palestinians' right to return, Jerusalem, and continued settlement expansion", during the Camp David talks.
Palestinians believe that any new Israeli government, even a Kadima-Labour coalition, will inevitably continue the policy of unilateralism and imposed solutions established by Sharon. That would make a negotiated settlement and a Palestinian state impossible, they say.
As one political analyst explained, the elections are not irrelevant to Palestinians, rather the loss of interest is attributable to the Palestinians' preoccupation with their "harsh realities and daily living", which have rendered the elections outlandish to them.
Palestinians, he said, "are convinced that there is no qualitative or real difference between Israeli political parties", which they see as vying with each other to torment Palestinians, deny them their rights, and steal their land. "So the bulk of the Palestinians do not think there is anything worthwhile that can be expected from the Israeli elections."
For more, see my article for Aljazeera here.