11:24 22 June
11:20 22 June

Elections in Israel show disenchantment of Arab citizens with Israeli politics


Baku-APA. The last Knesset (Israel's parliament) election has raised the number of Arab-Israelis going to the polls, but numbers say they are still not quite convinced that their ballots will bring about any real changes for their community, APA reports quoting Xinhua.


Even though Arab citizens make up 20 percent of the population, the general feeling is that they are underrepresented in the parliament and their Arab leaders' initiatives, washed away by a majority of Jewish politicians in the parliament.


This election, with 60 percent of the Arab community heading to the polling stations, is an improvement compared with 2009 election, when only 53 percent fulfilled their democratic right. One of the reasons was the fear Arab politicians instilled on their voters about the dangers of leaving the country to a far right-wing coalition.


"This year the Arab parties were asking their voters the question 'Who are you going to leave the country to?', and this raised fears that the next government, formed also by the Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu), would have even worse policies towards the Arabs," Rania Laham, deputy director at Mossawad Center for Arab-Israelis told Xinhua on Thursday.


The main reason for the apathy of the Arab community, Laham explains, is the fact that they feel powerless to bring any change, given by the small number of representatives they have. In these elections, their seats in the Knesset have climbed up to 11, three more than in the last Knesset.


Still, most of the Israeli-Arabs who didn't vote, made their choice out of frustration.


"I didn't vote because I wasn't interested at all in the elections," Asma, an East Jerusalem resident, told Xinhua, "and why would I be, they don't represent us and whether they are Jewish or Arab, nothing is going to change."


Even if these elections have garnered more Arab members in the parliament, Laham remains sceptical that this will make any difference.


"I don't know realistically how much of change we can make, but we can put obstacles to what the government wants to do, to show the government that the Arab community is not going to sit around idly," Laham said.


Another problem for the Arabs in Israel is the fact that many East Jerusalem residents don't have citizenship, but a permanent residence status, which does not allow them to vote.


"Arabs in Israel are also tired of their Arab representatives, they don't feel they talk for them," Aatef Karinaou, leader of Hope for Change, the first pro-Israeli Arab party, told Xinhua before the elections. "The current Arab members of the Knesset are not doing anything to advance their community, and they are corrupt, so of course, Arab voters feel deceived and apathetic."


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/ 23 June, 2018