CAIRO: ARAB NEWS
Published — Tuesday 22 January 2013
Last update 22 January 2013 5:20 am
The Arab League urged Arab Israelis to stage a massive turnout in the Jewish state’s legislative elections today, in a statement yesterday.
“The League calls on Arab citizens of Israel to turn out in droves for the elections so they are represented (in Parliament) and can oppose racist laws” that could be voted on in the Knesset, it said.
The pan-Arab body also expressed its concern over the likelihood of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition retaining a strong majority.
It said there were “initial indications” that most seats would go to the far right, who “do not want peace” with the Palestinians, pointing toward Netanyahu’s opposition to evacuating Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories.
Arab Israelis — Palestinians who stayed on after the creation of Israel in 1948, and their descendants — make up around one-fifth of Israel’s population. They “must be represented in that proportion” in the Knesset, the Arab League said. Arab MPs should “oppose all (laws passing through Parliament) that go against international law or against justice and democracy,” it added.
Less than half of Israel’s Arabs, meanwhile, are expected to vote today, in what pundits say could be their lowest-ever turnout.
Despite calls from all sides for them to get out and vote, many feel disenfranchised in reality, and are increasingly fed up with being excluded from political decision-making, which has for four years been dominated by right-wing nationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties.