An Israeli Arab casts her ballot at a polling station inside a church in the northern town of Reineh.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The campaign is heating up in Israel’s Arab sector for the leadership of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, with former Hadash head Mohammad Barakeh and community leader Sheikh Kamil Ahmad Rayan among the candidates.
The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee is an organization that coordinates Arab political action and is made up of Arab MKs, municipal leaders, and other community figures.
Five candidates registered by the Thursday time limit to run in the August 30 elections.
One of the leading candidates, Sheikh Kamil Ahmad Rayan, who is chairman of the NGO, AMAN Center- The Arab Center for a Safe Society, told The Jerusalem Post
on Thursday that his chances are good to win.
He said that Israeli Arab society has been in a downfall and has reached crisis proportions, and that if he is elected he would help improve the situation.
Rayan, who lives in Kafr Bara and works in neighboring Kafr Kassim, is also the head of the Al-Aqsa Association for the Care of the Islamic Holy Sites and a member of Islamic Movement’s Southern Branch.
Asked about the significance of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, Rayan mentioned that the organization was built on a national framework, which includes all political trends. “It is the father” of Arab organizations, he said.
The organization in its current form, founded in 1982, needs to deal with two main objectives, he says, those on the national level and those on the local civic one. In other words, the organization should deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as local Israeli Arab needs and interests.
Another candidate, Awad Abderfattah, the secretary-general of the nationalist Balad Party, told the Post
that his candidacy would further promote the idea of the Arabs “organizing on a national and democratic basis.”
New leadership is needed for the Monitoring Committee so that it can institutionalize and modernize to be more effective, he said.
Abderfattah noted that the Committee not only should lead national strikes and protests against Israeli policies, but can also be effective in building self-reliance, such as the idea of creating a national fund.
The Joint List, which united Arab political parties, was a big step in bringing Arab unity, he said, adding that this can be consolidated through the actions of the Monitoring Committee.
Kholod Massalaha, editor at the news portal Bokra.net, told the Post that the Arab public is highly interested in this election, just as much as those for the Knesset. She said it is difficult to predict who is going to win and there is talk about a possible second round if no candidate gets two-thirds of the vote.