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In Israeli elections, Arabs gain or lose opportunities to influence

Israel KAFR KANNA-Conservative Muslim Mansour Abbas is an unlikely political partner for the leaders of the Jewish state.

He is a supporter of political Islam. He leads an Arab party that originated from the same religious faction of the radical Hamas movement. For most of his political career, he never considered supporting the right-leaning party that has led Israel for most of the past four decades.

However, if Abbas follows his own path, even if the election next month means that the right-wing alliance will be restored, he can help decide the next Israeli prime minister. He is tired of the traditional peripheral role played by Israel’s Arab parties and hopes that his small Islamic group, Raam, will maintain a balance of power after the election and provide an inevitable partner for any Jewish leader seeking to form a coalition.

Abbas said in an interview with the election campaign of Kafr Kanna, an Arab town in northern Israel: “We can work with anyone.” According to the Christian Bible, Jesus turned water into wine. He said: “In the past, “Arab politicians have always been onlookers in the Israeli political process.” Now, he adds: “Arabs are looking for a real role in Israeli politics. “

This change by Abbas is part of a broader change in the Israeli Arab political world.

Driven by the electoral campaign, the two trends are converging. On the one hand, Arab politicians and voters increasingly believe that to improve the lives of Arabs in Israel, they need to seek power within the system rather than exert external pressure. In addition, mainstream Israeli parties realize that they need to attract Arab voters to win very close elections-some are willing to cooperate with Arab parties as potential allies.

These two trends stem more from political pragmatism than from dogma. Although it is possible to give Arab voters real power at this moment, it may be counterproductive: Mr. Abbas’ actions will split the Arab vote, the Jewish-led party’s proposal will also split, and both factors may reduce Arab voters’ Seats in Congress. The next parliament.

However, after performing well in the last election, the Arab political parties won a record 15 seats, becoming the third largest party in the 120-seat parliament, and are still excluded from the ruling coalition. Some organizations are looking for Other options.

The famous Arab TV host Mohammad Magadli said: “After Netanyahu has been in power for more than a decade, some Arab politicians have proposed a new method: if you can’t beat him, please Join him.” “This method is bold, but also dangerous.”

Palestinian citizens in Israel account for more than one-fifth of the Israeli population. Since the establishment of the country in 1948, they have been sending a handful of Arab members to Parliament. But those lawmakers have been trying to make an impact.

The Jewish leaders did not regard Arab parties as acceptable alliance partners-some parties on the right vil destroyed Arab parties as enemies of the country and demanded that Arab parliament members suspend their governance. As far as the Arab side is concerned, Arab parties are generally more opposing parties, providing little support to the center-left parties whose influence has weakened since the beginning of this century.

To some extent, this dynamic has worsened in recent years. In 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited the threat of higher Arab turnout-“Arabic voters flocked to polling stations on election day,” he warned on election day-threatening his base to vote . In 2018, his government passed new legislation that lowered the status of Arabs and officially described Israel as a nation-state with only Jewish people. By 2020, even his centrist rival Benny Gantz will refuse to form a government with the support of Arab parties.

But a year later, as Israel moves towards its fourth election in a two-year political stalemate, this pattern is rapidly changing.

Mr. Netanyahu is now vigorously wooing Arab voters. After assuming the leadership position, Yair Lapid, a centrist contender who served as prime minister, said that although he had seen Arab parliamentarians earlier in his career, he could still form alliances with Arab parliamentarians. The two left-wing parties have pledged to cooperate with the League of Arab Legislators to promote Arab interests.

Opinion polls show that most Palestinian citizens in Israel want their lawmakers to play a role in the government. Mr. Abbas said that Arab politicians should gain influence by supporting parties that promise to improve Arab society. The mayor of Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab city, another well-known Arab politician, Ali Salam, expressed support for Netanyahu. He said that although the prime minister had made remarks, the prime minister was sincere. Dedicated to improving the lives of Arabs.

“In the Israeli political system, it was once a sin to cooperate with Arab parties and even Arab voters,” said Nahum Barnea, one of Israel’s most famous columnists. But Mr. Netanyahu suddenly made Arabs “legitimate partners of any political means.”

Barnia added: “I hope he can’t open a box from now on,”

Mr. Netanyahu’s transition is the most outstanding. He promised to provide more resources to Arab communities and combat local crimes in Arab communities. He began to call himself “Yair’s father”. This was a reference to his son Yair, and it also aroused the intimacy of Arabs calling someone their eldest son’s parents.

At a watershed in January, he announced the “new era” of Arab Israelis at a rally in Nazareth and apologized for his past comments to Arab voters. He said: “I apologized then, and today I also apologize.” He also said that the critics “twisted my words.”

Critics say that Mr. Netanyahu proposed to Arab voters because he needed them to vote, not because he genuinely cared about them. This month, he also agreed to include a far-right party in his next coalition, whose leader hopes to disqualify many Arabs from running for Congress. And he also ruled out the possibility of establishing a government that relies on the support of Mr. Abbas.

The election next month is expected to be close to the previous three elections.

Mr. Netanyahu is currently on trial for corruption charges, and if he continues to be in power, he can enforce the laws that would save him from prosecution.

“Netanyahu cares about Netanyahu,” said Afif Abu Much, a prominent commentator on Israeli Arab politics.

Similarly, Arab politicians and voters have not completely shaken off their dissatisfaction with Zionism and Israel’s policies in the occupied territories. However, more and more people are realizing that the problems facing Arab society (gang violence, poverty, and discrimination in access to housing and land) will not be solved unless Arab politicians formulate policies at the highest level.

Abbas said: “I want a different result, so I need to change the approach.” “The crisis in Arab society has reached a boiling point.”

But Abbas’s plan is easy to fail, weakening the current influence of Arab citizens.

In order to operate on the new platform, Mr. Abbas had to withdraw from a coalition of Arab political parties, the United List. The remaining members of the coalition were not convinced to work with Israeli rights. This division may weaken the collective power of Arab parliamentarians.

Currently, support for Abbas’s party is hovering near the 3.25% threshold required for parties to secure entry into Parliament. Even if his party goes beyond the boundaries, there is no guarantee that any prime minister’s contender will need or seek the party’s support to secure the 61 seats needed to form the coalition.

Although Mr. Netanyahu has incited Arabs, he may also divorce Arab voters from Arab political parties, thereby reducing their influence. Disagreements within Arab political parties and their inability to achieve meaningful change, or the illusion of resisting a country that they rejected have kept more people at home.

“I don’t trust any of them, nor do I trust any of them,” said Siham Ighbariya, a 40-year-old housewife. She is well-known for her efforts to get justice for her husband and son. Her husband and son were murdered at home by an unknown killer in 2012.

Ms. Igbariya said of the Arab political class: “I have dealt with all these issues.” “Nothing happened.”

For some Palestinians, participating in the Israeli government is a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. This is a criticism of Mr. Abbas. He admitted: “There is a personal conflict deep in my heart.” “We have been in conflict for 100 years. This is a bloody and difficult conflict.”

He added, but it’s time to move on. “You need to be able to look to the future and build a better future for everyone, including Arabs and Jews.”

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