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Arab Voters Have Nothing to Look Forward to in Israel's November Election

חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli
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A woman casts her vote in the northern Israel village of Maghar in March 2021.
A woman casts her vote in the northern Israel village of Maghar in March 2021.Credit: Gil Eliyahu
חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli

Arab voters have nothing to look forward to in the upcoming election because the Arab parties, including the United Arab List, have nothing to offer. Disappointed by their representative, the Arab public no longer believes in genuine parliamentary change.

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Budgets are allocated too slowly, the matter of the unrecognized villages hit a standstill, and we can forget about anything to do with planning and construction. National issues are a hot potato, and after the government boasted about reducing crime, another, more brutal crime wave came and proved them wrong.

Disputes over national issues only grew more pronounced after the UAL entered the coalition. The party’s inclusion compelled the Arab voter to confront fundamental issues: the character of the country, control over Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the extension of the emergency regulations in the settlements – which also led to the government’s downfall. These questions will continue to gnaw at the UAL and the Palestinian Arab public.

The experiment known as Jewish-Arab parliamentary cooperation failed, and will apparently fail no matter the constellation. As long as the left and center lack legitimacy among the Israeli public, they will forever be fighting to prove they are more Zionist than the right.

In a way, if Arabs want to see a real breakthrough, in budgetary terms too, they might be better off with the right. Then again, as long as the far-right elements in the government persist in torpedoing decisions designed to benefit Arabs, funds and legislation won't advance. The foot-dragging will continue, this time with an overtly racist overtone courtesy of Itamar Ben-Gvir and others.

So what can the Arab voter expect? The UAL’s campaign will talk up the concrete gains it brought – “We started a change, but there's still work to be done… Let us continue.” Another slogan shows there's no difference between right and left: “We will work with anyone who is ready to work with us.” This pronouncement was meant to lay the groundwork for negotiations with Likud when the time comes, meaning that the party will go on ignoring national issues. For that, you’ve got the Joint List.

Meanwhile, for the Joint List, which until not so long ago was the one (particularly its Hadash component) carrying the banner for coexistence and genuine Arab-Jewish cooperation, things have been reversed: It will shift rightward to a more nationalist Palestinian platform with religious and national elements. The occupation and Al-Aqsa will be at the center of its campaign, and naturally it will portray all of UAL’s achievements as a sellout of principles and values.

This of course will scare off Jewish voters who are not part of the radical left, voters who gave the Joint List thousands of votes in 2015. Some of these voters will shift to Mansour Abbas this time, viewing him as an insurance policy for the perpetuation of the Zionist project in which the Jews have supremacy.

After all the fuss that was made about the Jewish-Arab coalition, the Arab voter approaches the next election with a sense of frustration. Every possible constellation of parties, will bring on a different serious problem. It won’t matter if the Arabs gain a record number of Knesset seats, if they recommend Benny Gantz as prime minister, if they align with the right or the left. Whatever the next parliamentary format, their situation will not improve. The Arab voter already understands this. Jewish voters understand it too. All that remains is an illusion of democracy.

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