Israeli Arabs Plan Netanyahu Removal

Israeli Arabs Plan Netanyahu RemovalIsraeli Arabs Plan Netanyahu Removal

Israel’s four Arab political parties are banding together under one ticket for the first time ahead of national elections in March, hoping to boost turnout and help unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Arab politicians say it will improve chronically low Arab voter turnout and help block Netanyahu from forming the next government. “We will be a central player in politics like never before,” said Ayman Odeh, a first-time parliamentary candidate and the leader of the combined Arab list, AP reported.

The parties agreed to unify last week because of a new law passed last year that raised the percentage of votes that a party must win to land a seat in parliament from 2 to 3.25 percent — a law advanced by Israel’s ultranationalist foreign minister that Arab lawmakers believe was intended to reduce Arab representation in parliament.

However, the united parties, which have yet to choose a name, face hurdles in convincing voters that their varied interests can be fairly represented under one banner.

Arab politicians say they have come under mounting pressure from their constituents to cooperate in order to tackle the challenges facing the Arab community, including what many see as increased hostility from the Israeli public and Israeli leaders — particularly since the summer war in Gaza.

“People said to us, ‘Your answer should be unity,” said Masoud Ganaim, the number two on the list and a representative of an Islamic movement.

Arab citizens of Israel make up about a fifth of the population of some 8 million, but their participation in Israel’s democracy has long been a complicated matter.

Israel’s Arabs say they have suffered from decades of discrimination, with unemployment and poverty often higher than the national average in their communities.

Israel’s Arabs also largely identify with the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza, leading many of Israel’s Jewish citizens to view them with mistrust. Israel’s Arab population mainly consists of Palestinian families who remained in Israel following the 1948 war that attended its creation.