Can the United Arab List change Israeli politics from within? | Israeli-Palestinian Conflict News


Given the political drama surrounding Benjamin Netanyahu go away, New things in Israeli politics have almost disappeared in the background: this is the first time in Israel’s history that Mansour Abbas (Mansour Abbas) List of United Arab Emirates (Ra’am) became part of the coalition government.

However, Ra’am faces a daunting task of wandering between catering to Palestinian voters and becoming a legitimate partner of Israel’s far-right.

Although Palestinians account for nearly 20% of the Israeli population, traditionally, the voices of the minority have been largely excluded from the political decision-making process.

Their representatives are unwelcome and unwelcome people, not only in the ultra-Orthodox and right-wing circles, but also in the secular left-wing and liberal parties.

After the elections in March 2020, Ra’am offered to support a center-left coalition Benny GantzHowever, Gantz rejected this proposal-because he was afraid of being torn apart by the right-wing camp as the Arab Brotherhood, and instead ally with his opponent Netanyahu-a choice he would regret now.

Thanks to Netanyahu, he used to tend to politicize Arab issues, disgusting and arousing resentment towards them, Ra’am is now a member of the Israeli government.

“The irony is that the Netanyahu camp broke a taboo. It tried-but failed-to get the Arabs to support Netanyahu’s coalition. The method used was very despicable,” Israel Open University Politics Professor Emeritus Benyamin Neuberger told Al Jazeera.

However, Netanyahu legitimized Lahm and allowed the anti-Netanyahu camp — the change group — to let Ram join the alliance.

“From now on, any alliance with Arab parties becomes legal-for the first time in Israeli history,” Newberg said.

The leader of the United Arab Emirates, Mansour Abbas, also known by the Hebrew acronym Ra’am, voted at a polling station in Magal, Israel [File: Mahmoud Illean/AP]

In the system

However, not only the political landscape has changed, but Israeli society has also changed. In February 2020, public opinion polls showed that only 23% of Jewish voters supported the idea of ??Arab political parties in the country supporting the Israeli government. In April 2021, a poll found that 48% of Jewish voters have now accepted this idea.

Therefore, Ra’am is increasingly aware that it can achieve more goals within the system.

Usually, the Palestinian issue will dominate the election plans of Arab political parties, but the turnout rate in the Arab community is still relatively low. This year’s turnout rate is the worst in history, at 44.6%.

Nevertheless, this indifference to politics has forced Arab political parties to usher in a paradigm shift that no longer prioritizes Palestinians in the occupied territories, but improves the living conditions of their voters, namely, Israeli Palestinian citizens. Considering that Palestinian citizens who voted first seemed to be interested in their own destiny, this is a meaningful strategic change.

Arab political parties are responding to the changing mood of voters, who are increasingly interested in livelihood issues: increasing crime and violence in Arab towns and villages; education; social services; discrimination in employment and municipal budgets, Newberg said.

“Ra’am successfully followed the trend.”

However, while Ra’am has benefited from this new reality in Israel, the status quo does not necessarily represent the future. The basic Jewish concerns about Ra’am are still national defense, public safety, and foreign policy.

Raam naturally advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. It also supports the equal rights of Palestinian citizens in Israel. However, Ram is also ideologically aligned with the now banned Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Gaza. In particular, the latter raises the problem that the alliance needs to find an answer, especially if the conflict with Gaza breaks out again.

Ra’am did a good job, especially in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, Newberg said that the main change in this matter was not brought by Lahm, but by the centrist. More importantly, the left has become part of a compromise alliance with the right. alliance.

“This compromise makes it easier for Ra’am to join the league,” he said.

“Ideological Concessions”

Nevertheless, joining forces with the far-right in Israel will undoubtedly be regarded by some as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. Neuberger said that in order to deny this view, Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas (Mansour Abbas) showed that he tends to follow the blueprint previously advocated by the ultra-orthodox religious party SHAS.

“Abbas will make ideological concessions, such as accepting Zionism and recognizing the Jewish state, in exchange for support for the interests of his party, such as funding his school.”

However, given that Ra’am only has four seats in the Knesset, it seems natural that the alliance will still cater more to the Jewish majority.

Neuberger said that the fundamental change seems to be that from now on, the Arab minority will be more important than in the past.

For his party’s vote, Abbas asked for additional funding for the Arab sector. Co-prime ministers Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid agreed to double the budget of Israel’s five-year plan for the development of the Arab sector to 35 billion shekels (10.75 billion US dollars).

In addition, Ra’am was subsequently recognized by three illegally established Bedouin villages in the Negev Desert, which is mainly composed of Israeli religious or nationalist Palestinian citizens. It marks a key change in Israeli politics-Knesset representatives have the power to promote issues that benefit Palestine.

“This is the first time in Israel’s history that an Arab national political party has become part of the government. The formation, survival and legislation of the government depend on its vote. This is an unprecedented situation-unlike the Rabin coalition in which Arab parties supported the government in 1992-95 , Sami Smuha, professor of sociology at Haifa University, told Al Jazeera.

“The main purpose of Ra’am in this alliance is to serve as the main representative of Arabs in Israel, and to be more representative than other Arab leadership agencies such as the joint list, the Arab local council chiefs committee and senior researchers.-On the committee.”

Therefore, Ra’am may insist on implementing other policies, such as allocating land for Arab public needs and housing, combating violence and crime in the Arab region, and building an Arab university in Galilee, Smooha said. .

In particular, crime is causing more and more damage to Arab communities, and homicides are increasing.

However, this expression will not make up for the obvious obstacles in the Ra’am approach.

Bennett, who once called Abbas a “supporter of terrorism,” advocated a Jewish settlement policy and was a strong opponent of the Palestinian state. In fact, most of the coalition partners are right-wing nationalists. They may criticize Netanyahu’s personality but not necessarily his policies.

In such an environment, how many concessions can be imagined?

Therefore, the political participation of a single Arab party is unlikely to lead to reconciliation between Jews and Muslims. The recent religious riots show how fragile coexistence is still.

However, according to the historic alliance agreement, Palestinian citizens of Israel are no longer untouchables. Some authorities say that in the long run, it can bring Jewish and Arab citizens closer together-if this extremely diverse alliance can be maintained.

‘New dynamic’

In addition, Ra’am’s participation may help to relax the front line to a certain extent, because radical steps such as annexation of occupied territories may mean the end of the alliance.

“The new development is that the government cannot ignore the needs and goals of Arab minorities in the civic area. If it crosses the red line of the country, it may endanger their survival,” Smukha said.

Smooha said that these red lines will be ubiquitous in the new Israeli government, namely the aforementioned civil and socio-economic needs or the subsequent Israeli war in Gaza.

However, he added that the probability of the two red lines being crossed is “not high.”

Despite the promising changes in Israeli politics, Ra’am now finds himself in a precarious position, and its room for maneuver between ideology and reality seems quite limited.

Its role and behavior in the coalition may affect whether Arab parties in the government are indeed seen as legitimate advances, or whether they will be seen as a failed experiment and hinder any future progress.





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