Arab-Israelis not thrilled with Bennett-Lapid gov’t, want cabinet seat for Islamic party

Israel’s Arab sector wants to play a larger role in governing the country but doesn’t trust the current government to deliver, a study by Tel Aviv University found.  

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

More than half of Israel’s Arab citizens want to see the Islamic Ra’am party take a ministerial position in the cabinet and more than a third don’t see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict being resolved soon, a poll has found, Israel Hayom reported.

The poll also found that more than half of Arab citizens felt that the rioting that took place in mixed cities last May during the Israel-Hamas escalation had severely damaged Jewish-Arab relations.

The government was given a low rating on its efforts to tackle crime and further invest in Arab communities, according to the Israel Hayom report.

The poll, conducted by the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation in the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, quizzed Israeli Arabs on a range of social and political questions, including support for the two-state solution and Arab representation in the Knesset.

Dr. Arik Rodnitzky commented, “The new survey illustrates the changes taking place in Arab society, which on one hand wants to increase the rate of integration into Israeli society and be a major player in the coalition and the government, and on the other expresses a lack of trust in the government and its abilities to change the reality and take care of Arab citizens’ well-being.”

On 2 June of this year, following the fourth general election in two years, a coalition agreement was signed between eight parties, including Yamina, Yesh Atid, Blue and White, and – controversially – the United Arab List, commonly known by its Hebrew acronym: Ra’am.

Asked whether they thought Ra’am’s involvement in the government would increase voter turnout among the Arab sector, 40.5% estimated that it would, whereas 22.7% believe it would decrease voter turnout.

Asked whether they themselves would vote if a new election were called now, 61.1% said they would against 32.9% who would not.

Finally, asked for their thoughts on Ra’am taking a role in this government, 56.2% of respondents wanted to see Ra’am push for a ministerial or deputy ministerial role in the cabinet, rather than being content with coalition membership.

There was also a lot of support for Ra’am re-entering the Joint Arab list, which, until the last election, included Hadash, Ta’al and Balad, as well as Ra’am; 71.4% said they thought the list should re-assemble, whereas 23.7% did not support reforming the list.

Just over half of those asked (51%) did not envisage the current government lasting a full four years, against 29.1% who think it will.

On a scale of 1-5, respondents gave the government an average score of 2.37. Asked how much faith they had in the government’s plans for fighting crime in the Arab community, the score was also at the low end: 2.13. The government also scored low – averaging 2.29 – on its five-year investment plan for the Arab sector.

Turning to questions of wider Israeli-Arab relations and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 23.7% supported a two-state solution on within the pre-1967 borders, while 26% preferred a single Israeli-Palestinian state. A larger percentage – 37.9% – said they did not foresee the status quo changing in the near future.

Regarding any faith that the Abraham Accords would help stabilize the region, 63.2% said they did not expect the Accords to promote a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, although 55.8% thought they were a “positive development” for Israel’s Arab citizens.