Ramadan Dabash poses at the Sur Baher community center on Monday.
(photo credit: UDI SHAHAM)
There will be twice as many polling stations in the Arab sector in the October 30 Jerusalem municipal election as originally planned, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
There was an uproar over the initial decision to have only five polling stations for the 180,000 eligible voters in Arab neighborhoods.
An article in Haaretz that reported that there would be substantially more polling stations – 187 – in Jewish neighborhoods was used against Israel by its critics, even though in the last Jerusalem race in 2013, barely 1% of eligible Arabs exercised their right to vote.
Following that criticism and amid threats of lawsuits, the head of the Central Elections Committee, Itzik Amrani, decided to raise the number of polling stations in Arab neighborhoods to 11.
Amrani revealed his decision last week to representatives of two Arab lists running in the election following a meeting with representatives of all the lists running.
There will be a list called Jerusalem for Jerusalemites led by Ramadan Dabash of Sur Baher, a citizen of Israel who has good relations with current Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat. Another, called Al-Quds Lana (Arabic for Jerusalem is Ours), is led by activist Aziz Abu Sarah, who is not a citizen and is petitioning the High Court of Justice
to be able to run for mayor.
Both lists intend to petition the High Court next week about the number of polling stations in the Arab sector. Dabash gave the Central Elections Committee a list of 17 sites in the Arab sector where he said polling stations are needed.
“We are waiting for answers from the Elections Committee, and if we don’t get them, we will have to turn to the court,” said Dabash adviser Gilad Israeli.
Arab residents of Jerusalem have had the right to vote in Jerusalem mayoral races even if they are not citizens of Israel for decades. But Muslim religious authorities have forbidden them from voting and threatened them.
Jerusalem’s Arab residents were also eligible to vote in the last Palestinian parliamentary election in January 2015. Instead of polling stations, they voted in local post offices.
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