ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Fatah official urges Israeli Arabs to vote for Joint List

Breaking policy of non-intervention, former Palestinian minister implores citizens to fight ‘racism’ with the ballot

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Fatah official Hatem Abdul Qader appears before a Jerusalem court, October 4, 2009 (photo credit: Matanya Tausig/Flash90)
Fatah official Hatem Abdul Qader appears before a Jerusalem court, October 4, 2009 (photo credit: Matanya Tausig/Flash90)

Breaking with his movement’s policy of non-intervention in Israeli politics, a Fatah official called on Arab Israelis to vote for the Joint (Arab) List on Tuesday in response to Israel’s “fascism and racism.”

Hatem Abdul Qader, a former Palestinian minister who holds Fatah’s Jerusalem portfolio, said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman “must hear the response of the Arabic public to their fascism and racism through the ballot boxes.”

Palestinian politicians have traditionally refrained from commenting on Israeli elections, but Abdul Qader told the independent Ma’an news agency that the unification of three Arab lists has granted Israel’s Palestinian minority an opportunity that should not be squandered.

“The Arab parties have put their differences aside and united in one national list. This crucial battle should win them the support of the Arab masses, a battle which will determine the destiny of Arabs in Israel, whether they will remain marginalized or become an active force capable of influencing and claiming their rights,” he said.

Another recent call to action by a non-Israeli Arab leader was not well-received. When Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt called on his coreligionists in Israel to vote for the Joint (Arab) List and seize “the rare opportunity to reinforce Arab society and unite its vision on the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he was rebuffed by former Israeli deputy foreign minister Majali Wahbeh, who told him via an interview to Israel Radio to “mind his own business.”

Walid Jumblatt, the political leader of Lebanon's minority Druse sect, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, as he sits in his garden house, in Beirut, Lebanon, on May 28, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Walid Jumblatt, the political leader of Lebanon’s minority Druse sect, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, as he sits in his garden house, in Beirut, Lebanon, on May 28, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The liberal Lebanese daily An-Nahar dedicated an editorial to the Israeli elections Monday, titled “Say ‘yes’ to the Joint (Arab) List.”

“Tomorrow Israelis will elect the members of their twentieth Knesset. At this time, all eyes turn to the Arab public, which finds itself facing a historic opportunity to change the political balance and assert the absent Palestinian presence in Israel,” the editorial read, ending with a hope that Israel’s elections will inspire the stagnant political arena in the Palestinian territories.

“An Israeli Arab vote for the Joint Arab List can be the start of a Palestinian awakening, a unique revival the echo of which will inevitably reach the Palestinian street, which suffers from disunity and fragmentation in Gaza and the West Bank,” it read. “Tomorrow, all Arabs eligible to vote must head to the polling stations and give their ballots to the Joint Arab List.”

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