MK Hanin Zoabi
Photo: Uria Tadmor

Zoabi ban unlikely to affect Arab voters

Supreme Court has yet to rule on Elections Committee's decision to disqualify Balad's MK from next elections, but ruling seems unlikely to change sector's inherently low voting rates

"Disqualifying Arab Knesset members is not the end of the world," the Central Elections Committee said in its ruling barring MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) from seeking reelection in the upcoming elections.


The ruling, rendered Wednesday, was carried 19-9 and was the first of its kind. The matter is now pending a ruling by the Supreme Court and a hearing on the matter has been set for next week.


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But what of the Arab voters? The Arab sector in Israel usually notes low voting rates, and political analysts believe the decision to disqualify the controversial MK will have little – if any – affect on the matter.


The prior elections saw 53.4% of eligible Israeli-Arabs exercise their right to vote, compared with 65.2% of Israelis eligible to vote.


The Israeli-Arab public, while disappointed by the decision, seemed mostly unfazed by the news of Zoabi's disqualification.


"You have to vote for Arab parties that support coexistence," Omar Rabiya, from Tayibe, told Ynet. "But I don't think many people will vote at all. People are tired for politics and they're disappointed with the Arab MKs."


Attorney Fuad Sultani, from Tira, predicted that Zoabi's disqualification will improve voting turnout in the Arab sector, "Because there's a rise in the power of the right-wing and fascist parties. The Arab parties have one goal now – to get people to vote.


"Unfortunately," he added, "The Zionist parties and the establishment have taken it upon themselves to decide who can and cannot run for election. Still, I can't see a situation where Arab parties are disqualified. If that happens, the Arab public will boycott the elections altogether."


Bilal Sala'ata of Sakhnin added that the Arab public in Israel was disappointed by the fact that the Arab parties have failed to join forces, even for the sake of running under one ticket, despite a clear preference to that effect among their constituents.


He too believes that the sector's voting rates will be unaffected by the Election Committee's decision.


Dr. Asad Ghanem, a senior lecturer at the School of Political Sciences in Haifa University added: "The past has shown that there is a political tendency to disqualify Arab Knesset members, but the Supreme Court is likely to see the bigger picture and overturn the ruling.


"I don't think the Arab sector is nervous about the disqualification at all and even if the court ratifies it, it's unlikely to have any significant ramifications."


Hassan Shaalan is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent



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פרסום ראשון: 12.20.12, 07:55
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