After years of engaging in relentless, blatantly racist incitement against the Arab parties, the foreign minister may soon get his comeuppance.
Avigdor Liberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party and current foreign minister, is trying to get the new unified list of Arab parties disqualified from running in the upcoming elections. According to settler website Arutz Sheva, Liberman’s petition is based on the claim that Balad, one of the parties on the list, supports terrorism.
Liberman’s previous campaigns included a proposal to strip citizenship from Israeli citizens who refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state. His 2009 campaign slogans were “Only Liberman understands Arabic,” and “No citizenship without loyalty.”
But while Liberman’s views on Arabs in general and Palestinians specifically are still popular with a significant segment of Jewish Israeli voters, his party has not been polling well at all. According to the most recent polls, he is down from 15 seats to 11 — and he knows that number could decline over the coming weeks. Yisrael Beiteinu’s traditional voter base of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) has either died off, emigrated or become apathetic non-voters. Liberman’s strident message tends to be oriented toward security issues, while polls show that Israelis are far more concerned about economic and social justice issues.
There is actually a chance that Yisrael Beiteinu might not win sufficient votes to sit in the next Knesset. Meanwhile, the united Arab slate is polling at between 11 and 15 votes — and their voters are loyal.
The fact is that Liberman has brought this entire situation on himself. It was Yisrael Beiteinu that pushed last year for the passage of a bill that would require political parties to win 3.25 percent of the vote, or a minimum of four seats, in order to take their places in the Knesset (the previous threshold was 2 percent). It escaped no one’s notice that this would have pushed all the Arab parties out of the Knesset, since none of them had more than five seats. The 3.25 percent threshold also means...Read More