Meretz unveils new Arab woman candidate

Rinawie Zoabi to Netanyahu after he wooed Arab voters: "Arabs aren't stupid"

Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi (photo credit: ELAD MALKA)
Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi
(photo credit: ELAD MALKA)
Peace activist Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi will be on Meretz’s list for the March 23 election, the left-wing party said Monday at a Tel Aviv press conference in an apparent effort to woo Arab voters.
Rinawie Zoabi is the founding executive director of Injaz – Center for Professional Arab Local Governance. She is not directly related to former Balad MK Haneen Zoabi or pro-Israel advocate Muhammad Zoabi.
Once approved by Meretz’s institutions, Rinawie Zoabi’s selection will ensure the representation of two Arab candidates in the top five on the Meretz list, three non-Jews in the top 10, as well as equal representation of 50% men and 50% women in the top 10.
“I am an Arab Palestinian who lives in Israel and whose family has lived here for centuries,” Rinawie Zoabi said. “We lost almost everything in 1948. But I am not here to dwell on the past, and I am not a victim. I come to you as an equal among equals.”
A lasting peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians is possible, she said.
Rinawie Zoabi mocked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for wooing Arab voters.
“The Arab population is not stupid,” she said. “They know who doesn’t zigzag and who truly helps them.”
Meretz faction head Tamar Zandberg welcomed Rinawie Zoabi to Meretz. She accused Community Development Minister Orly Levy-Abecassis and others of vetoing Arab candidates ahead of the last election. She blamed Derech Eretz MKs Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel for preventing a coalition with Arabs.
“Levy, Hauser and Hendel ran on a ticket of “anyone but Bibi,” but they made it “anyone but Arabs,” Zandberg said.
Rinawie Zoabi will be included on the list in place of former MK Ilan Gilon, who decided not to run in this election campaign due to health issues. The other candidates on the list will remain in place.
The list will be headed by Nitzan Horowitz, Zandberg and Yair Golan. Former MKs Esawi Frej, Mossi Raz and Michal Rozin will be fifth through seventh after Rinawie Zoabi. After human-rights lawyer Gabi Lasky, the ninth candidate will be Druze candidate Ali Salalha from Beit Jann. The 10th will be Tel Aviv Councilwoman Mehereta Baruch-Ron, who is an immigrant from Ethiopia.
Speaking in Arabic, Frej predicted that Meretz would get 30% to 40% of the Arab vote
“Meretz comes to Arabs as partners, not a source for votes,” he said.
Idan Zonshine contributed to this report.