Arab voters key to breaking deadlock in Israeli election
By Robert O’Neil
24 October 2013
The Israeli Election, a once-in-30-years event, is fast approaching, and it is a race as tight as the electoral field in France, Spain or Germany. Israel’s voters will decide this election between two unlikely candidates: Ariel Sharon, the long-time leader of the settler movement and the dominant center-left Zionist establishment, and Yair Lapid, a centrist former economic and environment minister, who had never been elected, although with his party, Yesh Atid, he had twice garnered 8 percent of the vote in the 2009 election.
The outcome will determine the fate of Israel’s two competing political parties and the legitimacy of the country’s governing coalition. The center-left Zionist Union and the center-right Likud, having failed to form a government with the right-wing opposition Zionist Union and Hadash, the Arab-dominated party with whom Sharon and Lapid have formed a pact, have become locked in a “government of national unity,” in which they will try to outlast the last few weeks of campaigning before the election. The stakes could not be higher.
The election will take place on Tuesday, December 15, and while it will not decide the Israeli-Arab question, nor will it bring a peace agreement with Hamas or a diplomatic settlement to the Palestinian issue, it will determine whether Israel has a government that will work for the interests of the Jewish state, or whether it is led by a narrow right-wing political elite determined to hold on to its privileges and privileges while the working class is oppressed and exploited.
The first week of campaigning has been dominated by the campaign for the Likud leader’s personal election. But this election is not a one-man show. Sharon has never faced a serious election challenge in the past, and no challenger has emerged with such credentials or the ability to mobilize the Arab population of Israel to back Sharon. Lapid is less well known, but he comes from the same political background as Sharon, his career as a