Zionist Union campaign event in Nazareth canceled after Arab pressure on municipality

Israeli Arab media says cancellation due to pressure from the join Arab list on the municipality due to fear of losing Arab votes.

February 18, 2015 20:07
2 minute read.
Le parti travailliste célèbre les résultats des primaires du parti.

Le parti travailliste célèbre les résultats des primaires du parti. De gauche à droite : Shelly Yachimovich, Stav Shaffir, Itzhak Herzog, Tzipi Livni et Hilik Bar. (photo credit: YONATAN ZINDEL/POOL)

The Zionist Union has canceled a planned campaign event in Nazareth, likely due to pressure from the joint Arab list and its supporters, Israeli Arab media reported on Wednesday.

Israeli Arab news website Kul al-Arab reported that the visit – which party leader Isaac Herzog was to head – had been dropped because the mayor and the municipality had come under pressure from the Joint List, which feared that the Zionist Union would take away Arab votes.

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Kul al-Arab owner and general manager Fayez Eshtiwy told The Jerusalem Post that he had heard that Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam had canceled because he was sick with a cold. However, “the question is if that is the truth,” Eshitwy said.

Ghada Zoabi, founder and CEO of the Israeli-Arab news portal Bokra.net, told the Post that to her knowledge, the meeting had indeed been canceled due to pressure on the mayor from the Joint List.

Asked if Arabs were likely to vote for Zionist parties, she responded that some Arabs wanted to strengthen the left-wing Zionist parties, particularly Meretz, in order to prevent a right-wing government.

The United Arab List, Ta’al, Hadash and Balad struck a deal last month to run together, following a decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent, and in response to pressure from the Arab public.

Asked if he believed the Joint List would succeed in increasing Arab turnout, Eshtiwy responded in the affirmative, but added that “the campaign hasn’t begun yet and I am not sure why.”

He speculated that the delay could be due to organizational issues in coordinating such a diverse group of parties, or to the hearings on whether to disqualify MK Haneen Zoabi from the election, which have taken up the bloc’s attention.

The Kul al-Arab owner predicted that the Joint List campaign would begin in a matter of days, with advertisements in the Arab media.

Regarding whether the party was likely to break up the day after the elections, Eshtiwy said that while the bloc was only a technical one, he had witnessed the component parties and politicians sitting together in harmony on Monday and bonding.

“I hope that they understand that staying together would be better for all of them,” he added, warning that the Arab community “won’t forgive them” if the list were to break up.

Polls have shown that the Arab public overwhelmingly supports the Arab parties’ move to run jointly.

The Joint List reached an agreement in the town of Musmus, near Umm el-Fahm, on a number of issues including the formation of a joint campaign staff on the local level, and the establishment of a joint headquarters, Kul al-Arab reported Tuesday.

The Joint List warned the Arab public to be wary of promises from Zionist parties, the report said.

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