Palestinian representatives to boycott Knesset polls

The northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel sees no benefit in participating in Israel's parliamentary polls on Tuesday – a view shared by other Palestinian representatives, such as the Abnaa al-Balad movement and the nascent Kifah group.

Palestinian representatives to boycott Knesset polls

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Twenty-six lists will compete in Tuesday's election, but opinion polls indicate that only 11 of these will likely exceed the 3.25-percent electoral threshold.

Palestinian representatives who favor taking part in the parliamentary elections view participation as a means of imposing an Arab agenda inside the Knesset and exposing Israel's "ugly" face and "racist" policies to the world.

Led by Sheikh Raed Salah, the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel – which split from the main group in 1996 – is considered one of largest Israeli Arab movements in Israel, according to an Anadolu Agency correspondent.

"The Knesset is part of the Zionist project; it is an institution with a Zionist tendency devoted to protecting the rights of the Israeli community and legitimizing what Palestinians have suffered in terms of historical injustice, religious persecution and nationalist discrimination," Salah told.

"It has become clear from the previous experience of Arab MKs – in 19 Knessets – that the outcome is always trivial; we didn't obtain any of our rights and no injustices have been addressed as a result," he said.

"Instead, the Knesset used the presence of Arab MKs to improve its ugly image before the international community," Salah said, adding that he didn't support the Knesset – or parliamentary polls – for this reason.

Conversely, the Islamic Movement's southern branch – led by Sheikh Hamad Abu Dabas – plans to participate in the elections. It will compete on a joint Arab list that includes the Balad, Hadash and Ta'al parties.

Nearly 1.6 million Arabs live in Israel, accounting for more than 20 percent of the self-proclaimed Jewish state's population of eight million.

The leaders of the Israeli Arab parties that plan to take part in the elections said that Arab turnout in previous Knesset polls usually stood at some 50 percent.

They hope this figure will reach 70 percent this time around, owing to the unity of Arab parties under a single list.

In the last Knesset, Arab parties held 11 of the assembly's 120 seats. Opinion polls now project that this figure will rise to 13, while party leaders hope to clinch as many as 15 seats in the upcoming poll.

The Kifah movement, for its part, founded last year, plans to boycott the elections, adopting the slogan "Boycotting is the stance" on its Facebook page.

"Kifah is not participating in the election and is calling for a boycott," Kifah Deputy Secretary-General Ayman Yehia told, adding that "thousands of Israeli Arabs support the movement's position."

"We're under occupation. It is only natural that we boycott the occupation's institutions and not bestow legitimacy on them," Yehia said.

He went on to note that previous experiences had shown that "there is no benefit from being in the Knesset."

"There are unrelenting efforts to save Israel from its current leadership crisis," he added. "We don't see ourselves as part of that effort to save Israel."

Knesset elections are held every four years, but the assembly can dissolve itself before the expiration of its term through a simple majority vote.

Competition between the right-wing Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Zionist Union alliance is expected to be fierce, according to recent opinion polls.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Mart 2015, 17:26