2nd Elections 2013 Update

Arab Politics in Israel and the 19th Knesset Elections

We are pleased to present the 2nd issue in the 2013 Elections Update series on Arab politics in Israel and the 19th Knesset elections on January 22. This update contains up-to-date information on the Arab political system in Israel, based on materials from the database of the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation, which operates in conjunction with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Israel Office).

From the Editor's Desk

There have been several developments since the first issue in this series went to press. First, the Central Election Committee disqualified MK Hanin Zoabi of Balad from running in the upcoming elections. Ultimately, the High Court of Justice unanimously overturned the Committee’s decision, paving the way for Zoabi’s participation in the elections once again. The ruling also removed the threat that Balad would call for an election boycott.

In the Arab street, the development that dominated the entire election campaign was a series of relentless efforts by Arab party representatives to ignite election furor that would spur Arab voting on Election Day. While routine public opinion polls of all (Jewish and Arab) eligible voters in Israel predict that all three major parties – Hadash, Balad, and Ra’am-Ta’al-Mada – will undoubtedly pass the election threshold, an early December survey of eligible Arab voters offered no favorable forecasts for these parties: 50% of the respondents stated that they had no intention of voting on Election Day, and 28% stressed that they had no intention of voting if the three parties fail to unite.

Ultimately, the parties failed to join forces as a united list. The parties’ representatives seemingly appreciate the significance of this critical hour, and the election campaigns of all three major Arab parties are focusing almost exclusively on efforts to increase anticipated Arab turnout. Apparently all three decided to downplay their rivalry and take an active stand against the calls for an election boycott and against the general political indifference of the Arab street that hangs over their heads like the sword of Damocles.

At the same time, the Jewish-Zionist parties, and especially the left-wing parties, Labor and Meretz, as well as the religious Jewish party, Shas, are exerting unprecedented efforts to regain the foothold in the Arab public that they almost entirely lost in the previous elections. These efforts pose another challenge for the Arab parties in the current election campaign: Will the major Arab parties maintain their power in the next Knesset? Will the upcoming elections signal a positive turning point in the political participation of the Arab public? Will Arab voters and the Zionist parties reconnect?

The current issue explores these questions, and sheds light on the key issues of the political campaign in the Arab public on the eve of the Knesset elections. These issues are discussed in two op-eds, followed by excerpts of items and features that appeared in the Arabic media (press and websites), translated here into English. The current issue concludes with various background statistics, based on data collected and stored in the computerized data archive of the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation.

Our readers are invited to contact us through:

Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation
Arik Rudnitzky, Project Manager (arabpol@post.tau.ac.il)
Moshe Dayan Center

© All rights reserved to the Konrad Adenauer Program of Jewish-Arab Cooperation, Tel Aviv University, 2012. The editorials reflect the opinions of their authors only.

This is a translated version of an issue originally published in Hebrew on December 20, 2012. We would like to extend our thanks to Ms. Renee Hochman, who translated and edited the material from Hebrew into English. We also thank Ms. Teresa Harings of Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for her most valuable assistance in editing the material in English.

Arik Rudnitzky
The Editor