The Arab Vote Will Determine the Identity of Our Next Government
Arab members of Knesset Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, and Mansour Abbas, Ra'am party leader, talk to reporters following a Knesset session in Jerusalem on Nov. 4, 2021. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images)

The Arab Vote Will Determine the Identity of Our Next Government

Ma’ariv, Israel, September 20

A lot of conflicting and contradictory commentary has been written in recent days about the decision made by Balad to defect from the Joint Arab List and compete in the upcoming Knesset elections as an independent party. On one hand, there were those who claimed that the dissolution of the Joint Arab List into smaller parties would discourage Arab voters from taking to the ballots, thereby preventing Balad from even passing the electoral threshold. Under such a scenario, the votes cast for Balad, which wouldn’t suffice to get it a seat in the next Knesset, would be split between the larger political blocs, and help Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party reach the 61 seats it needs in order to secure a parliamentary majority. Conversely, there have been those who claimed the exact opposite: that the move was actually orchestrated by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who wants to distinguish the remaining Arab factions, Hadash and Ta’al, which are considered far more progressive, from the hard-line Balad list. This will allow Lapid to invite Hadash and Ta’al to join his future coalition without being accused of siding with the “fundamentalists.” As is often the case with commentary, it often rests in the eye of the beholder. There are many questions up in the air, and none of us really know how this decision will ultimately shape the outcomes of the upcoming elections. What we do know, however, is the following: The Arab population of Israel will determine the identity of our next government. Never in Israel’s history has the Arab population played such a pivotal role in determining the country’s political future. Israel’s Arab population will be one of the primary beneficiaries of a stable government that can rule Israel for the next four years, and deal with some of the most urgent problems experienced within the Arab sector: violence and killings, a deteriorating infrastructure, and the lack of economic mobility. It is therefore to their benefit to take an active part in the election and drive up the voting rate in Arab towns and cities. Unlike most other pundits, I believe that the Arab public will vote en masse in the November 1 elections. Arab citizens want to integrate further into mainstream Israeli society and want to see their representatives in parliament win more seats, so they can represent their interests and fight for their rights. Balad’s decision to drop out of the Joint List will catalyze Arab voters and send them to the ballots. – Efraim Ganor (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)


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