Likud: Left-wing activists provide rides for Bedouin voters against law

The Likud Party requested that the head of the Central Elections Committee order the organization and activists to disperse.

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September 17, 2019 17:20
3 minute read.
A Bedouin man casts his ballot in Knesset elections on April 9, 2019

A Bedouin man casts his ballot in Knesset elections on April 9, 2019. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

The Likud party issued an urgent application for an immediate injunction against the left-wing Zazim organization and its activists on Tuesday after it was reported that they were working "individually" to provide rides for thousands of Bedouins to vote, even though Central Elections Committee head Hanan Melcer ruled that they could not provide rides, according to Globes.

Likud requested that the Melcer order the organization and activists to disperse.

The party provided evidence for their claim, including a Facebook post by a Zazim activist stating that "volunteers who want to provide rides for residents of unrecognized villages to polling stations and are registered with 'Zazim' or are not registered with 'Zazim' are invited to the Dor Alon Zahav gas station starting at 9:00 a.m. and continuing until sunset... There was a decision by the judge that the Zazim organization is forbidden from acting for these rides. Therefore, the Zazim organization is already not in the picture. Every private person can give a ride to people to the polling stations – and therefore, all the volunteers and the people who meet you are private individuals and not a part of the Zazim organization."

A Whatsapp message from Zazim similarly stated that, "there was a legal decision to prevent Zazim from acting in order to bring residents of Arab villages in the Negev to polling stations. However, all the volunteers that registered should arrive as they were told. The decision does not apply and cannot apply to civilian volunteers."

The Likud Party claims that dozens of drivers arrived in an organized manner to the gas station – who were prepared ahead of time with lists of voters and towns – in order to provide rides for voters . Zazim volunteers who had clearly organized the "spontaneous" event were present, according to the Likud, Globes reported.

"Excel files with thousands of records, many computers, tables, chairs and so on – and of course, dozens of drivers – arrived at the same time to the same gas station in accordance with a call that invited them to come to there. [They] were not organized by individuals or private citizens, but rather an organized array designed to bypass the head [of the Central Election Committee's] order in a sophisticated way under the guise of spontaneous organization," said the Likud Party.

On Monday, Melcer determined that Zazim is acting as an "active election body," despite not being registered as one, under the "V15 Law" limiting the involvement of foreign-funded organizations in elections.

Zazim's website calls it "a campaigning community for social and political change."

Likud, working with right-wing NGO Im Tirzu, cited e-mails Zazim sent to supporters that indicated the NGO planned to provide transportation for 15,000 Bedouin Israelis to polling stations on Election Day so that they would vote for left-wing parties.

The Zazim e-mail also described their actions ahead of the election in April, including transporting voters and sending text messages, Whatsapp messages and e-mails, which likely indicated expenses higher than allowed for an NGO not registered as an "active election body."

On Monday, Zazim's Director-General Raluca Ganea said: "Unfortunately, the Elections Committee is helping the Likud's efforts to suppress Arab citizens' votes.

"The ruling is full of factual errors," she argued. "The ruling party's petition against a civil organization with limited resources proved to be a lawsuit for censorship purposes.”

Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman said the decision prevents 50,000 Bedouin citizens living in unrecognized “villages without public transportation or polling stations” from voting.

“This kind of transportation should be provided by the state, but [are] not when their votes could threaten the oppressive regime,” she said.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.


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