Muslim religious ruling prohibits Arabs from voting in Jerusalem

There are some 180,000 eligible voters in the Arab sector.

October 28, 2018 17:00
2 minute read.
Muslim religious ruling prohibits Arabs from voting in Jerusalem

THE MINARET of a mosque is seen near the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Arab residents of Jerusalem faced a new threat over the weekend against voting in Tuesday’s municipal election.

Sheikh Akram Sabri, the sheikh of Al-Aqsa Mosque, convened the Council of Jerusalem sheikhs, which issued a fatwa (Muslim religious ruling) prohibiting participation in the election.

“Taking part in the election assists the occupation in entrenchment of Jewish control over the city and changing its historic and religious character,” said the fatwa, which was originally revealed by the Makor Rishon newspaper.

Sabri devoted his weekly sermon at Al-Aqsa Mosque to his call to boycott the vote.

The decision could harm the Jerusalem for Jerusalemites Party led by Ramadan Dabash of the capital’s Sur Baher neighborhood. Dabash is a citizen of Israel who has good relations with current Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and government officials.

A source in Dabash’s party said he was not surprised by the decision.

“It is a decision of a Palestinian Authority that is under pressure, and it does not reflect the Koran,” the source said. “Dabash has received 22 fatwas from that he can run if he is helping his people.”

A source close to Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who is a candidate for mayor, expressed hope that Arabs would vote in the election. There are some 180,000 eligible voters in the Arab sector.

Elkin was hurt by a final decision made Sunday by Deputy Mayor Yossi Daitch to remain in the race. Elkin had hoped that Daitch would quit and throw the support of his Agudat Yisrael Party behind him.

Daitch received a surprising endorsement Sunday from former Meretz city councilwoman Reli Ben-David. He has also been endorsed by the former head of Meretz in Jerusalem, Pepe Alalu.
Without Daitch’s support, Elkin will have a tough time passing city councilmen Ofer Berkovitch and Moshe Lion and earning a place in a November 13 run-off race between the top two finishers that will be held if no candidate wins 40% of the vote.

In an effort to reach out to Elkin’s voters, Berkovitch called upon Jerusalem District Police Chief Yoram Halevy on Sunday to probe who sent anonymous text messages that insulted Elkin to Jerusalem voters. Berkovitch, who heads the Hitorerut Party, called messages comparing Elkin to the Smurfs cartoon villain Gargamel “incitement.”

“I have tried to run a positive and clean campaign, and avoid mudslinging,” Berkovitch said. “We want to create unity, not discord. We want to win because of our abilities, not because of attacks.”

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