Arab Israelis and Far Right Lose Significant Representation in Parliament
When the head of the Joint List of political parties representing Arab Israelis anxiously announced during the late afternoon hours of election day that there was a possibility the next parliament would have no Arab members, many thought Ayman Odeh was parodying Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s infamous admonishment in the 2015 election. Many, including critics of the PM world-wide jumped on the bandwagon condemning Netanyahu for what they said was a racist sleight after by way of getting out the vote he warned “Arabs are flocking to the polls.” While Odeh escaped any criticism after describing it as “the prime minister’s fantasy – the Knesset [parliament] without any Arab representation,” reality set in and people realized it while somewhat hyperbolic, it could nevertheless come to pass. Although it did not, the low turnout left the Arab population with half (5 seats, down from 13) the representation it had in the recently-disbanded government. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the political spectrum, the far-right parties took a beating. For Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, their bizarre ploy of breaking away from the party they already headed to form a new one blew up in their faces as voters stayed away in droves, driving them from the parliament altogether. Moshe Feiglin, a far right ever-hopeful who figured he was better off selling his affinity to legalized pot rather than extreme politics showed a potentially strong presence in some polling, but after the vote, joins Bennett and Shaked on the “used to be in the Knesset” list.