Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Arab turnout "especially low" in Israeli elections

By Myriam Purtscher - April 10, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Israeli Elections]


The Israeli elections saw a record low turnout of Arab voters on Tuesday, with potential consequences for Arab representation in the Knesset.


Palestinian-Israeli turnout was at 46 percent an hour before polling closed, far below the 61 percent turnout of voters nationwide.


Overall Arab turnout in the 2015 election was 63 percent.


Ahmad Tibi, the most senior Arab member of Israel’s Knesset who is running as the second candidate on the Hadash-Ta'al list commented on Twitter that the low voter turnout among Palestinian-Israelis "constitutes a real danger to both lists", a reference to the two separate Arab alliances running in the election.


"It's a very serious blow to the Arab representation in the Knesset," Tibi stated.


A senior Hadash official told Haaretz that because of the low Arab turnout, both Arab alliances, the United Arab List-Balad and Hadash-Ta’al, are in danger of losing seats in the Knesset.


“That means the Knesset would have no Arab representation. That’s a dangerous situation.”


In the 2015 election, both Arab parties ran together as the Joint List - however their split this election which led to the establishment of the two parties, drew sharp criticism from many Palestinian-Israelis, with some calling for a boycott of the election.


Criticism over Arab poll station surveillance


As Netanyahu looks likely to take out his fifth-term as Israeli Prime Minister, concerns were raised as right-wing activists placed 1,200 cameras in Palestinian neighbourhood polling sites.


Israel's Central Elections Committee (CEC) chairman Judge Hanan Melcer filed a complaint to the Israel Police on Tuesday after the Likud party allegedly gave right-wing activists cameras to monitor polling stations located in Palestinian-populated localities.


The Hadash-Ta’al party initially lodged the complaint over the Likud surveillance methods on Tuesday with the CEC, stating the “illegal” action by the “extremist right” was a bid to intimidate Arabs from exercising their right to vote.


Likud election official Kobi Matza confirmed that cameras were deployed, and said it was to ensure the votes remain unrigged.


According to Reuters, Matza told Kan radio station,“they are not hidden cameras. They are cameras in the open. We are worried about counterfeit (votes) in the Arab sector.”


Netanyahu responded to the police investigation by saying the cameras were to “ensure a fair vote.”


CEC Judge Hanan Melcer said only under “extraordinary circumstances,” is filming permitted filming at polling stations during an election and ordered Likud to remove its recording equipment.


Haifa-based Mossawa Centre, The Advocacy Centre for Arab citizens in Israel, criticised the use of surveillance in a statement on Twitter, calling it "continued use of underhanded and illegal tactics by the Likud party".


"By infringing on the basic political rights of Arabs who vote in the Israeli elections today, the Likud party continues to ensue suspicion and fear of Arabs as an extreme right-wing political strategy," the tweet stated.


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