Aug. 23, 2018
Prior to the local elections in Jerusalem on October 30, 2018, terrorist organizations are increasing the pressure on east Jerusalem’s Arab residents to maintain the boycott of Jerusalem’s municipal elections.
Surveys reflect a desire to participate in the elections in order to wield influence and channel budgets into services and infrastructure for the Arab neighborhoods.
A public letter in Arab media from “the Islamic nationalist forces in Al-Quds (Jerusalem)” calling on Arab Jerusalemites to boycott the elections asserted: “Whoever takes part in the elections is a traitor who harms all the Palestinian values.”
This call echoed a religious ruling by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, which stated: “Whoever among the Jerusalem residents takes part in the local elections will be defined as someone who has left the fold of nationhood, the homeland, and the religion.” The PLO Executive Committee took the same stance.
31% of Jerusalemites eligible to vote are Arabs. (Arabs constitute 41% of the population, but many are too young to vote.) In the 2013 municipal elections, only 1% of the city’s Arabs voted.
Dr. David Koren, Arab-affairs adviser to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, thinks there will be greater voting turnout in neighborhoods such as Wadi Joz, Beit Safafa, and Sur Baher, but he is not convinced that there will be enough for an Arab list to pass the minimum threshold. “The Palestinian Authority’s ability to stick labels on [east Jerusalem residents] as ‘Zionist agents and collaborators’ still exists. And it has a deterrent effect.”
The writer is a journalist and commentator who has documented Jerusalem for 30 years.