Finding Nonviolence in Jerusalem: The Palestinian Boycott of Jerusalem Municipal Elections Since 1967

PALESTINIANS IN JERUSALEM, who have the legal status of permanent residents and are permitted to vote in municipal (but not national) elections, have largely chosen not to participate in the city’s electoral process since the start of the occupation in 1967. Boycotting the municipal elections is the longest lasting—and arguably most important—method of nonviolent resistance to the policies of discrimination and exclusion that Palestinians contend with in this contested city. While Jewish Israelis portend to be searching for a nonviolent Palestinian leader as a partner for peace, they fail to recognize the strength of the election boycott as one of many legitimate tools seeking justice and peace. Palestinians boycott municipal elections as an unequivocal refusal to legitimate the Occupation of East Jerusalem and Israel’s claims that Jerusalem is the “complete and united” capital of Israel. It is a technique used to refute the oft-cited assertion made by Jews, in Israel and the United States, that Israel’s democratic system allows Palestinians to participate equally in the political process.