Slim Chances for Arab Lists in Knesset Elections

Of the five Arab lists that intended to run in the June 30 Knesset elections, two were “cancelled.” The three that will run have poor prospects of winning even a single seat.

The three which will compete for Arab votes are the United Arab List, headed by veteran Arab politician Seif A-Din Zuabi; Arab Brotherhood, a new list, predominantly Christian, headed by a retired police officer, Hanna Haddad; and The Movement of the Arab Citizens in Israel, headed by a Bedouin auto mechanic, Nuri Al-Uqbi.

At best the three lists will gather no more than three seats between them although Arab electorate power — with about 170,000 voters expected to turn out at the polls–is worth more than 10 mandates. The bigger parties here caused so much division in the Arab sector that about half are expected to vote for the (Communist)Democratic Front, and the rest will be shared between other parties, chiefly the Labor Alignment which has a relatively strong power base among the Arab population.

The Communist Party is presently the strongest political force in the Arab sector (It has five seats in the outgoing Knesset, most of them thanks to Arab voters) because the Arab population regards that party as the most efficient avenue to express its grievances.

The Democratic Front, led by the Rakah pro-Moscow Communists, is by no means the most extreme element in the Arab political arena. The front, unlike other nationalist elements among Israel’s Arab population, calls for the creation of two states — Jewish and Palestinian — in the territory of “Eretz Yisrael.” Other, smaller groups do not recognize Israel’s right to exist and reserve for themselves the “right to self-determination” without regard to a specific territorial entity.

However, these groups are not running for the Knesset either because they know their prospects are slim or because they know the government is unlikely to tolerate a party known to reject the existence of the State.

Unlike previous elections, the Labor Alignment this time did not create an Arab list of its own arguing that such a “puppet list” would have no chance. Instead the party called on the Arab population to vote the general Alignment list. But it did not make such a decision easy when it placed its Arab candidate only in the unlikely 47th slot. The only other Arab candidate on the Alignment list is Mapam’s Mohammad Wattad, in the 32nd slot.

The Communists, true to their slogans of Jewish-Arab cooperation have two Jews and four Arabs among the first six. The party is headed by its veteran leader Meir Wilner.

The three smaller lists which run independently all stress the point of civil rights and do not have any national elements in their platforms.

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