Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Israel: Kadima Elections and the Arabs inside Israel

Kadima MK: Arabs to hit polling stations en masse

Deputy foreign minister notes non-Jewish sector displaying highest rate of voting, says votes from this sector going mainly towards Livni
Sharon Roffe-Ofir

Fourteen thousand of Kadima's 74,000 registered voters are not Jewish and, as of Wednesday evening, the non-Jewish sector had demonstrated the highest voting rate among party members. Among these, 6,900 are Druze, 4,600 are Muslim and the rest are Christian or Bedouin.

Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Whbee, who coordinates party issues related to the non-Jewish sector, estimated that many Muslim members of Kadima would be going to vote late Wednesday night, following the Iftar feast (which marks the end of Ramadan).

"After the feast, voters will arrive (to polling stations) en masse," Whbee said confidently. He stated that, according to estimates, a quarter of the registered non-Jewish Kadima members had already voted. He believes that some 60% of Arab Kadima voters will vote by the end of the day.

Most of the polling stations are located in the north, in between the various Druze and Arab villages. The largest polling station is in the village of Shfaram, where it is believed that over a thousand voters will cast their ballot their by the end of the day.

"We believe that the non-Jewish sector will be the deciding factor in the election's outcome," the deputy foreign minister said.

Earlier Wednesday, he toured various polling stations and noted that, "things are progressing in a calm and orderly fashion, with the exception of two incidents… in Rahat and Birka. Both resulted from misunderstandings that were quickly resolved."

Whbee, who supports current Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, believes that she will be today's victor, despite Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz's assertions that polls indicate that he will be the winner.

"Mofaz forgets that there's a huge discrepancy between rumors that the (non-Jewish) sector is in his favor and his very right-wing policy, since Arab voters are not particularly right-wing," Whbee said.,2506,L-3598258,00.html

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