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The Ticker

The student news site of Baruch

The Ticker

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Israel’s government must pay close attention to the needs of Arab party

The modern state of Israel holds elections every four years or every time a majority formed-coalition loses support. In Israel, the minimum number of seats for a coalition to be formed is 61. All citizens have the right to participate in these democratic elections. 

The President of Israel authorizes one member of Knesset with the task of forming a coalition government via political alliances with various parties. 

Benjamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister of Israel, is the head of the right-wing — both politically and religiously conservative — Likud party. Since he failed to form a coalition after the April elections, second elections were held this past September, according to NBC News

The parties that gained the most seats were Kahol Lavan, Benny Gantz’s newly founded Blue and White party, Likud and the Joint List, an Arab-Israeli led, left-wing party. Despite the majority of of the Arab population in Israel identifying themselves as Israeli, the Joint List is distinctly anti-Israel.

Netanyahu has voiced vehement opposition to including the Joint List in a coalition with his Likud party. The conservative Likud party is diametrically opposed to any policy or political move which might compromise the security of the State. 

Since lives are at stake — sadly, there have been numerous terror attacks initiated by Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza — the right refuses to budge on the issue of security. This means Likud would never align itself with Arab leaders. The Joint List leaders do not concern themselves chiefly with the deteriorating domestic conditions in Arab-Israeli neighborhoods like crime, violence and poor education. 

Instead, party members focus on Israel’s external relations with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and some have expressed support for terrorists. In doing so, they have neglected the very Arab-Israelis they are supposed to represent. This may be why Arabs are reluctant to come out and vote. During the April elections, only a third of eligible Israeli-Arabs voted for Arab parties. Why bother when the Arab parties are not actually representing the interests of Arab-Israeli citizens?

During the second elections in September, the Joint List gained 13 seats in the Knesset, NBC News also reports

This is a record high for an Israeli Arab party. With this many seats, there can be two potential historically significant outcomes that will result. The first is that the Arab Joint List would be included in the majority government. In exchange for backing the coalition, the Joint List leaders would insist on support for various bills. 

This decision could have consequences both domestically and internationally from the Palestinian refugee situation in the West Bank to the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, to the way Israel interacts with its neighbors in the Middle East. Differences in culture, religion, history and beliefs would come to the forefront if this medley of leaders were to unite in a coalition government.

This supposed gain for the Arab-Israelis would merely be an illusion. Arab leaders acting to advance their own agenda will not solve the real issues facing the Arab-Israeli population.

On the other hand, if the Joint List is not included in the coalition, this would potentially leave the Joint List as the leader of the opposition. This would be a first in Israeli history for an Arab-led party. 

Traditionally, the opposition has been led by either conservative or liberal Jewish-Israeli parties. This would highlight Israel’s essence as a true democracy. All citizens are given a chance to express their political views by electing leaders who represent their voices. 

As a significant percentage of the Israeli population, having an Arab-led party in an important government position is indicative of Arabs having a place in Israeli society. Israel was created as a homeland for the Jewish people as a protection against anti-Semitism. 

Modern-day Israel has come to include people of all backgrounds and beliefs — Christians, Muslims, Druze, Bahai, atheists and Jews. 

The government of the State of Israel needs to incorporate the views of all its citizens. If its leaders really were aiming to advance the development of Arab-Israelis within Israeli society, having an Arab-led Opposition party could be a step in the right direction. 

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