Yaffa Party still on the fence

While the rest of the parties are either in or out of the coalition, one remains undecided. "We are not an opposition party, not yet. In fact, we are still negotiating," says Omar Siksik of the Yaffa Party, which holds one seat on the city council. Although Yaffa is perceived as an Arab party, Siksik, a merchant from Jaffa and a 30-year veteran of local political activity, insists that he represents both Jaffa's Jews and Arabs. Negotiations, he says, are progressing, and the city has shown flexibility thus far. Although technically part of Tel Aviv, Jaffa has its own set of problems and its own distinctive characteristics. The main issue on Siksik's agenda is housing. Since early 2007, almost 500 families in Jaffa have lived under the threat of demolition and eviction orders. Siksik is demanding that the city set up a roundtable to discuss the issue, with all of the entities involved, including public housing and land authorities, as well as residents. In the meantime, he would like the city to commit to a freeze on home demolitions. Encouraged by progress in Kfar Shalem, Siksik thinks this can be done. He is also lobbying for affordable housing for Jaffan families, which he also thinks is achievable. Siksik points to a 50 percent dropout rate at Jaffa's high schools, and underfunded public schools. Improving the state of Jaffa's schools and lowering dropout rates, he says, will lead to less crime in Jaffa. Although he is not formally a part of the opposition, Siksik has only positive things to say about City for All's performance thus far. "It's always good to have a strong, democratic opposition," he says, "and they are doing a good job."