Arab Political Parties

   Arab political parties have been a part of the Israeli political scene since independence, and the Arabs in Israel have been represented on a regular basis in the Knesset. In the Knesset elections between 1949 and 1969, the majority of Israeli Arabs supported the dominant Jewish party or the Arab political party lists affiliated with it. In 1973 and 1977, this support declined; the mixed Arab and left-wing Jewish Communist Party (Rakah; see NEW COMMUNIST LIST [RAKAH]) secured nearly 50 percent of the Arab votes in 1977. To a great extent, this reflected growing Arab nationalism and support for the Palestinians, causes espoused by the Communists. Overall, Arab participation in the political process also declined during the same period.
   In 1981, the Alignment tripled its vote among the Arabs of Israel compared to 1977; this was seen as a vote for the best of the bad alternatives. Much of the turn to the Israel Labor Party was seen as anti-Begin and anti-Likud and grew out of disappointment with Menachem Begin's ignoring the Arab problem in Israel. There was an unexpectedly low turnout of Arabs voters and a sharp decline in support for Rakah. In the 1988 election, Rakah won four seats. In 1992, the Arab and mixed Arab-Jewish parties won five Knesset seats; while 47 percent of Arab votes went to the Arab parties, 30 percent went to center-left Zionist parties (Labor 20.3 percent, Meretz 9.7 percent). In 1996, the vast majority of Arabs casting valid ballots voted for Shimon Peres for prime minister; in the Knesset vote, the United Arab List (UAL)-Arab Democratic Party won four seats, while the Israel Communist Party-Hadash took five mandates. In the 1999 election, Arab political parties won a total of 10 seats in the 15th Knesset, with the UAL-Arab Democratic Party taking five, the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) three, and the National Democratic Alliance (Balad) two. In the 2003 election, Arab parties won a total of 8 seats in the 16th Knesset, with Hadash-Ta'al taking three, the National Democratic Alliance (Balad) three, and the UAL-Arab Democratic Party two. The National Democratic Alliance (Balad), Hadash, and the UAL contested the 17th Knesset election in 2006 and won a total of 10 seats.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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