Arab parties fear new faction working for Negev's Bedouins will split vote

The Future of the Negev party is made up of 20% women, aiming to threaten the Islamic Ra'am faction and the predominantly Arab Joint List; 'Our goal is to put the Negev on the economic-educational map,' says party official

Einav Halabi|
Israel's fifth snap national vote in three years has not yet officially been called, but the election campaign already appears to be in full swing. This time the Arab political establishment looks to be on the edge with the announcement of a new party being formed, which vows to work for the politically-homeless Bedouin sector.
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  • The Future of the Negev party aims to break up Ra'am and Joint List's authority over the Arab vote.
    3 View gallery
    טלאל אלקרנאווי ראש עיריית רהט
    טלאל אלקרנאווי ראש עיריית רהט
    Head of Future of the Negev party and Rahat Mayor Talal Alkernawi
    (Photo: Herzel Yossef, Hanegev News Agency)
    The new supra-tribal party is made up of public figures, economic and social entrepreneurs, heads of councils and social activists from unrecognized towns and villages in the Negev. At least 20% of party's officials are women.
    "This was the hardest year the Negev residents have known," claimed one official of the party, led by Rahat Mayor Talal Alkernawi, formerly affiliated with the Labor party.
    "From house demolitions all the way to the Electricity Law - the Joint List folded in the face of all these struggles."
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    הפרות סדר עם חידוש הנטיעות סמוך למולדה
    הפרות סדר עם חידוש הנטיעות סמוך למולדה
    Police arrest Bedouin rioters in the Negev
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The founders of the new party are also very critical of the policies implemented in the Negev by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government.
    "Our goal is to put the Negev on the economic-educational map," said Ibrahim Nasasreh, a well-known entrepreneur in the Negev, appointed as the number two in the party.
    "We're not in a place of judging the Joint List or any other party. But, the Negev is in need of a change and it is necessary that we bring it to the public sphere."
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    מנסור עבאס
    מנסור עבאס
    Ra'am chief Mansour Abbas
    (Photo: Oz Mualem)
    Nasasreh added that "we also do not rule out integrating into an existing party."
    Critics of the new party claim it may lead to a deeper rift in the Arab community and hurt the Bedouin's political influence. Among them is Wahid al-Huzil, an IDF reserves officer, who says that "establishing another Arab party will lead to a rift in the Arab society, and hurt the electoral power of the Bedouins in the Negev."
    Al-Huzil, however, praised the Ra'am party for joining the governing coalition. "Mansour Abbas is a true and strong leader that went against the mainstream, and really brought on a significant change. That can't be ignored."
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