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  • The Arab parties united? Great, now it's time to get to work

    After a great deal of work, the joint Arab election slate has finally come into fruition. But what does the list say about the place of women in Arab politics? Who proved himself to be the real leader of the group? And what can the Arab public do now? By Samah Salaime Egbariya You know that joke about how Arabs can't agree about anything but the fact that they disagree about everything? Well, it is officially no longer relevant! With the looming elections and the raising of the electoral threshold, Israel's Arab population went into a long state of difficult…

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  • Arab parties likely to announce historic joint election slate in coming days

    Islamists, Marxists, women and Jews: The Arab parties have done the seemingly impossible and are likely announce a united election slate in the coming days. By Yael Marom and Nadav Frankovich Israel's Arab parties are expected to announce the formation of a combined election slate in the lead-up to the upcoming elections. The slate, which will group Ra'am, Balad, Hadash and Ta'al into one party (without formally merging), has been named "The United List," and is set to include secular, religious, female and Jewish politicians. While the different Arab parties have historically run separately, a law spearheaded last year by…

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  • Why won't the Arab parties just unite already?

    Raising the Knesset threshold was a game-changer, and now the Arab parties must find a way to unite in order to stay relevant. Will they put aside their egos and political differences for the sake of Israel's Palestinian minority? By Samah Salaime Egbariya A war of attrition has been declared on the Palestinian minority in Israel, in the wake of endless discussions over the possibility of uniting the Arab parties to run in the upcoming elections. It turns out that Arabs are not really connected to realtime: with every passing week, simple folk such as myself (not to mention 60 percent…

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  • High Court rules against Zoabi, upholds Knesset suspension

    'In effect, from this day forward, Arab Knesset members will be subject to the political judgements of the Jewish majority,'  MK Zoabi's attorneys say. The High Court of Justice on Wednesday rejected MK Haneen Zoabi's appeal to overturn her six-month suspension from parliamentary discussions for a political opinion she expressed on the radio in June. As I reported yesterday, in deliberating her petition, the justices spent more time interpreting and judging Zoabi's politics than whether the Knesset had the right to suspend her in the first place. In its decision (Hebrew), the justices essentially chose "not to interfere" with the…

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  • Israelis deserve more from their leaders

    We deserve thought-out policies that can bring an end to the current cycle of violence and prevent the next. By Ilan Manor Henry Ford once said that thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it. Over the past few days, some Israelis have felt that their elected officials in the Knesset have given up on thinking all together. First came the revelation that our elected representatives in the Knesset approved the state budget in a preliminary vote without even having the opportunity to read it and understand what they were…

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  • Family life forbidden for migrant workers in Israel

    Legal advocates decry Israeli policies toward migrant workers as inhumane and claim that they violate the laborers’ human right to family. Maris Delusong, a 36-year-old caregiver from the Philippines, is alone at Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station. She stops at a sale rack outside a clothing store. She looks at the baby clothes, pulls a pink onesie off the rack and runs her fingers over the soft fabric. Her face is sad as she puts the outfit back and moves along. “It’s hard to be alone,” Delusong says. She found herself drawn to the baby clothes, she says, because “I…

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  • Going rogue: How the Ministry of Finance plays by its own rules

    When it comes to getting its way, the Finance Ministry will go to no end to force other governmental bodies to bend to its will.  By Hagai Kalai Like public authorities in Israel, the Ministry of Finance aims to promote public interest to the best of its understanding. However, like all public authorities, the ministry suffers from a narrow perspective: it gives higher value to its own policies, while undervaluing the importance of proper administrative process. Yet, while most public authorities try and promote their agenda through the standard legitimate government mechanisms, the Ministry of Finance has developed a long…

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  • The agonies of being an Arab democrat in the Knesset

    When establishing the Knesset’s Palestinian democratic party, the founders of Balad had to shift their discourse and terminology: from the liberation of Palestine and the establishment of one inclusive democratic state, to the reinvention of Israel as a democratic state, the party's secretary general writes. But has such a shift paid off? By Awad Abdelfattah On the eve of the 2009 Knesset elections, as I stepped off a platform following a political debate, an Israeli journalist approached me. "Is it true that you don’t vote,” she asked, “even though you are secretary general of a party that takes part in elections?”…

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  • When the canons roar, the Israeli Left remains silent

    It appears not much has changed since Operation Cast Lead, when opposition leader Haim Oron tragically decided to support the military offensive. Rather than apologizing and giving evasive answers to the media, the Left, led by the failed opposition leader, should be standing up to yell 'enough!' By Elinor Davidov It took seven days of "Operation Brother's Keeper" for the leaders of the Israeli Left in the opposition to say, sofly, that there is a problem with the current military operation, with its goals and with its implementation. For the first time, a week of collective punishment, a closure on the…

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  • Livni’s number two: We should leave the government now

    MK Mitzna adds that he hopes the departure of his party from the coalition will lead to its downfall.   Amram Mitzna, former head of Labor party and currently number two in Tzipi Livni’s Tnuah party, called on his fellow party members to leave Netanyahu’s government due to the prime minister’s lack of commitment to the peace process. “I don’t believe Netanyahu anymore that he is interested in a settlement with the Palestinians,” said Mitzna in a public political event in Kfar Saba. Mitzna added that he hopes the Tnuah’s departure from the coalition will make the government fall. Netanyahu’s…

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  • Time to end the delegitimization of Arab Knesset members

    Any time the subject of Arab legislators or Arab parties in Israel comes up, someone always feels the tiresome need to mouth off about how horrible Arab members of Knesset are. With crocodile tears, they accuse those MKs of manipulating or forgetting Arab citizens and getting lost in their occupation obsession (a thin guise for their real goal which is the destruction of Israel), instead of working to improve the lives of their voters. With all due respect, I’d like to blow this nonsense out of the water with a few facts. A recent quantitative study by the Abraham Fund…

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  • To fight anti-democratic legislation, Palestinian citizens must unite

    As Israel's right wing escalates its attempts at silencing Israel's Palestinian minority, Ran Greenstein offers the Arab street an alternative approach at fighting back.  By Ran Greenstein “At the end of every sentence you say in Hebrew there's an Arab with a hookah” (Meir Ariel, a Song of Pain) There is no Israeli politician, past or present, for whom this phrase is more applicable than Avigdor Liberman. His brainchild, the Governance Law, which was adopted by the Knesset earlier this week, raises the electoral threshold from 2% to 3.25%. This may not seem a lot, but had it been in…

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  • Why the electoral threshold stokes internal conflict

    A half-empty Knesset voted Tuesday to approve an electoral reform bill theoretically intended to stabilize governance in a country with a notoriously unstable system by raising the voting threshold to 3.25% from the current 2% (itself an increase from earlier years), among other reforms. To understand why change elicits such visceral reactions, it should be viewed in the context of three aspects: the Israeli political system, Jewish-Arab relations, and majority-minority relations more broadly. The Israeli political system No party in Israel has ever won an absolute majority in the Knesset, and there has always been a governing coalition. Those coalitions…

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