Arabs to play key role deciding Kadima race

More than 23,000 out of Kadima’s 95,000 members eligible to vote in the race are non- Jews.

Majallie Whbee_311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Majallie Whbee_311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Two weeks ahead of the March 27 Kadima leadership primary, sources close to opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz said the race could be decided by the votes of Arab Israelis.
More than 23,000 out of Kadima’s 95,000 members eligible to vote in the race are non- Jews. While there are no exact figures within the sector, party officials said it is split evenly among Arab Israelis and Druse.
Mofaz gained a big boost this week when he received an endorsement from Kadima’s strongest Arab activist Ahmed Dabah, a confidant of former prime minister Ariel Sharon who was in an unrealistic slot on the party’s list for the last two Knessets. Dabah announced his endorsement at a rally with Mofaz in his Galilee hometown, Deir el- Asad.
Livni’s campaign tried hard to woo Dabah, who registered thousands of members to Kadima. She tried to utilize Sharon’s son, former MK Omri Sharon, to put pressure on Dabah, who did not support a candidate in the last Kadima leadership race.
“Both Mofaz and Livni are fit to lead,” Dabah said. “I will do everything possible to help Mofaz win. But unity in the party is important to me and after the race, I will stay in Kadima and support the winner.”
The head of Livni’s campaign in the non-Jewish sector, MK Majallie Whbee, downplayed Dabah’s endorsement and accused Mofaz of foul play.
“Mofaz promised Dabah he would be an MK,” Whbee said. “Mofaz cares only about getting support from political hacks and vote contractors who can be bought with promises and political patronage positions. But this is not a big loss for us. Dabah won’t even be able to bring Mofaz his own city.”
Whbee said Arab Israelis are attracted to Kadima because of its values supporting the peace process and equality.
Dabah, who like Whbee got his start in Likud, said it was important to promote coexistence from within a Zionist party.
Both candidates are also trying to woo Druse Kadima members. Mofaz had an event last week in Daliat al-Carmel in the North, a town that boasts the highest percentage of Kadima members among any municipality’s population.