World: A historic first? Israel's Arabs could lead parliamentary opposition - PressFrom - US
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World A historic first? Israel's Arabs could lead parliamentary opposition

18:40  20 september  2019
18:40  20 september  2019 Source:   reuters.com

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Early predictions suggest that parties representing Israeli Arabs could become the third most powerful faction in In some possible scenarios, the parties could head the opposition , a first for Israel . A deal between Arab parties and Gantz – who led the bloody 2014 war in Gaza and has said he wants

JERUSALEM — The right to speak directly after the prime minister? Meetings with all visiting heads of state? Monthly briefings from the Mossad? For the first time, the perks of being the opposition leader in the Israeli Parliament could go to an Arab lawmaker.

HAIFA, Israel (Reuters) - Israel's Arab parties are set to be the largest non-ruling bloc in parliament - and could even lead the opposition - if a national unity government emerges from Tuesday's election.

Ayman Odeh standing in front of a crowd: Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, gestures as he hands out pamphlets during an an election campaign event in Tira, northern Israel© Reuters/AMIR COHEN Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, gestures as he hands out pamphlets during an an election campaign event in Tira, northern Israel

A surge in turnout gave the Arab-dominated Joint List 13 of the Knesset's 120 seats, making it the third-largest grouping behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Party, with 31 seats, and Benny Gantz's centrist Blue and White, with 33.

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel is holding the country' s 22nd parliamentary elections on Tuesday, with The vote marks the first time the country has held elections twice in one year. The do-over election was Many Arab voters boycotted the vote to protest divisions within the Arab political leadership as

Israel ' s Arab coalition appears poised to emerge as the main opposition bloc following Tuesday's election, a historic first that would grant a new But this time around, due to the shifting constellation of Israeli politics, it would be well-placed to lead the opposition if a national unity government of the

That would make the Joint List the largest opposition grouping in parliament if a unity government takes shape, a realistic possibility even though Gantz rebuffed Netanyahu's initial invitation.

No party drawn from the 21 percent Arab minority has ever been part of an Israeli government. But if Joint List head Ayman Odeh, 44, becomes opposition leader, he would receive monthly briefings from the Mossad intelligence agency and meet visiting heads of state.

This would provide a platform to voice Arab complaints of discrimination against them and give a bigger platform to Arab parties that differ with parties drawn from the country's Jewish majority.

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Israel ' s Arab coalition appears poised to emerge as the main opposition bloc following Tuesday's election, a historic first that would grant a new But this time around, due to the shifting constellation of Israeli politics, it would be well-placed to lead the opposition if a national unity government of the

Israelis — and anyone with even a cursory interest in Israeli politics — will be forgiven for feeling that they have been here before. Although Gantz is the most serious opposition Netanyahu has faced in a decade, the only way Bibi has stayed in power so long is by bringing together shaky coalitions of

"It is an interesting position, never before held by someone from the Arab population. It has a lot of influence," Odeh told reporters outside his home in Haifa, a mixed Arab and Jewish city in northern Israel.

But although the Joint List will be the single biggest group, other opposition parties combined would have enough seats to block his appointment through an absolute majority vote, analysts said.

GRAPHIC: Seat projections in Israel's election - https://graphics.reuters.com/ISRAEL-ELECTION/0100B2B21D9/ISRAEL-ELECTIONS.jpg

"There's no way the other parties will agree to have Ayman Odeh as head of the opposition, and grant our community recognition and legitimacy," said Aida Touma-Sliman, an Arab lawmaker from Odeh's Hadash faction.

Arab lawmakers often call for an end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and the dismantling of Israel's settlements in the West Bank.

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Israel is holding the country' s 22nd parliamentary elections on Tuesday, with over 6.3 The vote marks the first time the country has held elections twice in one year. The do-over election was He faces tough opposition from his former army chief of staff, Benny Gantz, whose new Blue and White

TEL AVIV, Israel —A day after voting in the second parliamentary election in half a year, Israelis woke up on The factions that make up the list failed to run jointly during Israel ’ s first vote in April. Arab lawmakers could leverage their influence to obtain chairmanships of powerful legislative committees.

"SYMBOLIC WIN"

The Arab community in Israel is mainly descendants of the Palestinians who remained in Israel after its creation in 1948, and some in the younger generation openly identify as Palestinian.

They make up 1.9 million of Israel's 9 million population, and often complains of discrimination in health, education and housing, living in cities such as Nazareth and Acre in the north and Bedouin towns in the southern Negev desert.

The Mossawa Center rights group says Israel's state budget often favors Jews, allocating more funds to Jewish localities and schools than to Arab ones. Some 47% of Arab citizens live in poverty, far above a national average of 18%, it says.

However, Netanyahu's Likud party counters that its 15 billion shekel ($4.19 billion) investment plan for the Arab sector during the last parliament "is the largest such commitment in Israel’s history", according to Eli Hazan, Likud's foreign affairs director.

In Tuesday's election, Odeh and his group of four Arab parties ran a united front and Arab turnout increased sharply. That helped them regain seats lost in April when they were divided and turnout plummeted.

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Israel ' s Arab coalition appears poised to emerge as the main opposition bloc following Tuesday's election, a historic first that But this time around, due to the shifting constellation of Israeli politics, it would be well-placed to lead the opposition if a national unity government of the two largest parties

Being part of the opposition could place Shaked and her colleague Naftali Bennett as an alternative to Likud, the source says. The voter turnout in Arab communities rose to 60 percent in this election compared with 50 percent in the April ballot, partial results of Israel ' s ballot indicate.

The Joint List held up its stronger showing on Tuesday's rerun as a victory over what is described as an "unprecedented campaign of incitement against the Arab public" by Netanyahu and right-wing parties.

Netanyahu made allegations of voter fraud in Arab communities an issue in his election campaign, and sought to deploy cameras to the country's polling centers in what Arab leaders described an attempt to scare off voters. Israel's top court refused to allow cameras.

Eid Jbaili, a 55-year-old gym teacher from Haifa, said he boycotted the April election but voted on Tuesday "because my community's leaders showed they could exude unity in the face of adversity".

But Jbaili was unsure an Arab opposition leader would be able to provide anything beyond a "small symbolic win" for his community.

"We still won't be decision-makers in this country," he said.

(Editing by Stephen Farrell and Timothy Heritage)

Israel's president taps Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form next government .
The final results published Wednesday saw the Likud party win 32 out of the 120 seats in the Israeli Parliament, one behind Blue and White's 33.Netanyahu now has 42 days to try and cobble together a government. If he fails to do so the opportunity could pass to the next candidate who the president thinks has the greatest chance of forming a government.

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