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Israeli Arab Public Figures Mull Appeal to U.N. for Protection

Higher Arab Monitoring Committee calls for ‘state of national emergency’ in Arab society if their situation deteriorates in light of the rise of the far-right in the recent elections

The chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee said in an interview on Saturday that the Arab Israeli leaders would consider turning to the international community and the United Nations to seek protection for themselves and the Palestinian people.

Former lawmaker Mohammed Barakeh told Haaretz that the circumstances Arab Israelis might face in the incoming Netanyahu-led government could warrant the committee to declare a national emergency in the Arab community in Israel.

“If obvious fascists – who are the closest thing to the neo-Nazi movements in Europe – join the government, this will be a basis for a call to the international community not to cooperate with this government as was the case with Austria under Jorg Haider,” Barakeh said, following last week’s election results, which saw the far-right Religious Zionism party win 14 seats in the Knesset.

Meanwhile, chairman of the National Council of Arab Mayors in Israel Mudar Younis told Haaretz what the Arab mayors feared for how the new government could relate to the Arab community, and to what extent that government would be bound to previous decisions regarding the Arab Israelis.

According to Younis, one of the issues on the agenda included development, planning and construction. Also included is the ongoing funding for Arab communities and continued efforts to fight high crime rates in Arab society. “We can’t ignore the election results; on the other hand, funding to the Arab public is not a benefit or a gesture of good will from the government, but rather stems from the fact that Arab Israelis are citizens and the Arab local authorities are part of local government,” Younis said.

Concern over clashes in the south

The Arab community is concerned that the voting patterns in the Negev – the southern part of Israel that includes cities such as Be’er Sheva and Sderot and rural Arab communities – are situating the Arab and Jewish populations on a collision course. Voting in the Jewish communities in the Negev showed growing support for the far-right Religious Zionism party, headed by MKs Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, while the United Arab List received some 55,000 votes, helping secure an additional seat in the government.

Arab Israelis voting at a polling station in the southern city of Rahat last Tuesday.
Arab Israelis voting at a polling station in the southern city of Rahat last Tuesday.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

There is now a running fear among the unrecognized Bedouin villages that the previous government’s approach, which spoke of recognizing those communities or limiting the demolition of illegal structures, would now change completely. An activist on the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages of the Negev explained that Ben-Gvir and Smotrich talked about “restoring governance” during the campaign, most likely meaning that a right-wing government would return to the area to exert their authority.

According to the activist, Religious Zionism will focus their efforts on the unrecognized villages and any measures they take there will not render an immediate reaction from the international community or the surrounding Arab countries – as is the case with Jerusalem or the West Bank.

Dr. Mansour Nasasra from the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva doubts whether anyone in the new government, especially because it is far-right, will seek to start any conflict, especially against the Bedouins. “There is a difference between an election campaign and media noise and applying immediate [steps],” Nasasra said.

“It’s not that we discount what will happen, but in my opinion there are state apparatuses set in place to prevent an escalation with the Bedouin community in the Negev.”

Source: Haaretz