As of last night, Israel is set for a March 17 general election, and one of the yet unanswered questions is: what will the Arabs do. Should the three Arab Knesset parties repeat the same results they saw in January, 2013, it is likely that at least two would be locked out of parliament. This is because the new “governance law, ” passed by the outgoing 19th Knesset, set a 3.25% bar before competing parties, meaning that a political party must win 3.9 seats before it can claim its first seat in the House.
Nasouh Nazzal, writing for Gulf News, cites MK Haneen Zoabi, who said that after the electoral threshold was raised, none of the three Arab parties would be able to win seats unless a unified list was secured.
“There is massive pressure from the street to achieve total unity in the coming elections, where the voting percentage among the [Israeli Arab] citizens is expected to rise from 52 per cent to 83 per cent and the number of seats to be occupied by [Israeli Arabs] in the Israeli parliament could rise from 11 to 15 or 16 [if unity is achieved], ” she told Gulf News.
MK Zoabi is probably the only Arab MK who rejoiced in the dispersing of the Knesset at this juncture, because the Knesset has just recently removed her from office for a year, as punishment for assaulting a policeman during a rally. It is not clear whether she would be permitted to run for the 20th Knesset, but if she is, she’d be catching some break.
Zoabi suggested that unity among the three Arab parties will be announced shortly, promising a kind of political miracle of a unified list which also preserves the character of each party.
“New political resistance strategies are being discussed and that will enable us to regain public trust in politics and public awareness of the magnitude of the political resistance, ” Zoabi said.
“The coming government in Israel will be purely rightist as 60 [of 120] seats are occupied by the right wing, ” she noted. “Netanyahu will choose from among the right wing and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties to form his new government.”
The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, on the other hand, has branded the early Israeli elections an “internal affair, ” according the Gulf News.
“This election will delay and suspend all kinds of contacts with the Israelis under the pretext that Israel is conducting elections, ” Hanna Amerah, a member of the PLO Executive Committee told Gulf News. “That will cause a delay of six months or more.”
Frankly, the only cooperation Israeli seriously cares about is the one it maintains with the Palestinian Authority security forces, working together to keep terror down. This is a mutually beneficial relationship, as Israel goes out of its way to warn and protect PA senior officials against the aggressive Hamas.
Amerah urged Israeli Arabs parties to unite as a single bloc to win representation in the coming elections.
“If the [Israeli Arab] parties run the elections individually, none of them will win a single seat. They should come up with understandings to run for the elections in a unified block to secure representation in the Knesset, ” he said.
Diana Buttu, political analyst and former Palestinian negotiator, predicted that Lapid, Livni and the Israeli Arab parties would lose in the coming election.
She said that the Israeli public did not see any difference between Lapid and Netanyahu and in the case of Livni, she hasn’t been and will not be an alternative for Netanyahu in Israel.
“Unless the [Israeli Arab] political parties run for the elections in a unified block, they will lose at least three seats from their current number, ” she told Gulf News. “The [Arab] political parties should view the matter as a national issue and suspend all personal calculations to succeed.”