Many Arab Israelis see no hope in elections, particularly after nation-state law was passed
'After a particularly difficult year, and ahead of a general election in Israel on Tuesday, many members of the country’s Arab minority say they are refusing to vote in a poll predicted to re-elect Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel’s estimated 1.9 million Arab population makes up around 20 per cent of the country, and across Druze areas and other Arab communities in Israel, there has been a growing clamour for a boycott.
In the country’s north, the mayor of the largest Druze town in the country, Daliyat el-Karmel smarts at the differences in services he believes are provided to his town, as compared to the nearest Jewish-majority city.
Driving from his town to Yokneam Illit, Rafik Halabi says, is like “going from Benghazi to London”.
Once a poor settlement, Yokneam Illit is now a thriving city, with factories, industrial complexes and major businesses.
At the same time, says Halabi, he has been allocated no budget to provide similar opportunities for his people.
The ruling Likud Party, meanwhile, says the government’s 15 billion shekel (£3.2bn) investment plan for the Arab sector “is the largest such commitment in Israel’s history”, according to Eli Hazan, Likud’s foreign affairs director.
But it is just one of many grievances the disgruntled Arab-Israeli community are feeling in the lead-up to the elections next week.
Halabi predicts that only half of Daliyat al-Karmel, around 80km north of Tel Aviv, will bother to vote on Tuesday, which incumbent Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud Party, is now predicted to win.
“We are bitterly disappointed by the policies of this government, we have paid all our dues and duties and got nothing back of our rights,” Halabi says.
Netanyahu’s government ratified the controversial nation-state law in July which has a constitution-like status and has been described by critics as “apartheid legislation”.'
Read more: Arab Israelis vow to boycott vote: ‘The elections have never been so racist’