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Israeli Government Decision on Extent of Arab Participation in Elections Expected Soon

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An Israeli Government decision on the extent of Arab participation in the forthcoming national elections is expected shortly, Moshe Erem, director of the Department of Minority Relations, today told a press conference here.

Erem revealed that at a recent meeting of Arab leaders the opinion was voiced that Arabs should not participate in the general elections in order to avoid complications with Arabs outside of Israel. Another reason advanced for non-participation was that no Arab party has yet been formed in Israel. The Druzes, numbering 10,000-12,000, have decided to participate in the voting.

Erem pointed out that if the Arabs do not place an all-Arab list in the field the government cannot take any action to force them to do so, because some Arabs might want to support any one of several parties and insistence on one all-Arab party would violate their rights. Two possibilities for Arab participation exist: either the placing of several Arab parties in the lists or the Arabs can contact existing Jewish parties and ask for representation on their slates.

A bloc of three Arab groups–one a Moslem religious party and the other two labor bodies–has approached the Hapoel Hamizraohi with a request that they all cooperate in the forthcoming elections, it was reported here today. Negotiations aiming at the formation of a united religious-labor bloc between the Jews and Arabs are said to have begun already.

Turning from the election issue, Erem disclosed that Arab workers have been infiltrating the Negev and Gallic from neighboring countries. They are apparently crossing the lines in search of highly paid employment. Rumors are circulating throughout the Arab states that conditions are excellent in Israel and that Arabs receive high pay and full equality with Jewish workers. In addition, there is no unemployment.

Four hundred Arabs from outside the country are now employed in Acre and some 500, including 200 from Acre, are engaged in harvesting the citrus crop in the vicinity of Jaffa. Others are busily engaged in building homes for new Jewish immigrants. Skilled craftsmen get $8 to $10 daily.

The government is operating medical centers and services for the Arabs throughout the country. Staffed by Israeli doctors, clinics are being opened in Arab Villages and social work is being organized among Arab women. A special Christmas allotment of food is being given to all Christian Arabs in Israel, Erem also announced.

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