MK Tibi suspects polls underestimate Arab united list strength

New Arab party established to run against united Arab list, claims to work for Arab citizens rather than confront the state.

January 25, 2015 21:28
2 minute read.
Ahmed Tibi

MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL - Ta'al) in the Knesset.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Ta’al chairman MK Ahmed Tibi raised the possibility on Sunday that polls, which show a unified Arab bloc getting 11 seats in the Knesset in the upcoming election, are erroneously minimizing Arab representation in the next Knesset.

“Stop giving us 11 [seats] in an automatic and negligent way,” said Tibi on Twitter, referring to various polls that show the consolidated Arab bloc getting a nominal number of mandates.

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“I suggest that pollsters that don’t exactly know how to sample Arab voters would be helped by Arab polling institutes.”

In an interview with Israel Radio on Sunday, Tibi said that Arab surveys predicted that the Arab alliance would get between 13 to 15 seats in the upcoming election.

Challenged about this, the Arab MK retorted, “You the Jews don’t know how to poll Arabs, period.”

Tibi went on to argue that Jewish-run polls give more weight to the Jewish sector than the Arab one.

United Arab List, Ta’al, Hadash and Balad struck a historic deal on Thursday night to run as a unified bloc.

The decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent of the vote to win seats in the Knesset and pressure from the Arab public has forced the parties to band together.

The list looks to be led by new Hadash head Ayman Odeh, followed by the southern Islamic Movement’s United Arab List’s Masud Gnaim, Balad head Jamal Zahalka in the third slot,and Ta’al head Ahmed Tibi fourth.

Polls of the Arab sector have predicted a higher turnout if the Arab parties unite.

Asked how it is he did not get the top spot on the Arab list, Tibi responded that although the Arab public supports him for this position there were political deals involved in the negotiations and things turned out differently.

When questioned if the unified bloc would survive the day after the elections and not split apart, Tibi responded that it would last longer than that and he hopes it succeeds.

Meanwhile, business people and educators from the Arab sector announced the creation of a new Arab party, Hope for Change, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.

The party’s founders say it will be an alternative to the Arab alliance that was recently announced. The head of the party is Atef Krenawi, a businessman and former Likud member from the South. His deputy is Mahmoud Nujeidat, who works in education in the Galilee. Nujeidat told Army Radio that the party, instead of confronting the state, would act in economic, civic and social spheres in order to help the Arab public.

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