In the 2015 Knesset election, the various Arab parties in Israel joined together into a single bloc, thus garnering thirteen of 120 seats. But this unity proved short-lived. In the elections this past April, different parties ran separately, leading to two of them dividing ten seats between them. With new elections scheduled for September, these parties are undergoing the same splintering and instability as the rest of the Israel political system. Eyal Zisser sees this state of affairs as an opportunity:
The source of the Arab parties’ problem lies in their agenda, which focuses more on the struggle against the state of Israel and its institutions and less on an attempt to integrate Arab citizens further into Israeli society. The vast majority of Arabs in Israel have long since opted to integrate into the state of Israel and its fabric of life. The path is long and riddled with obstacles. . . . But the data point to impressive progress having been made by Israel’s Arab citizens in every field.
But the Arab parties have refused to focus their activities on an agenda that seeks to improve the situation of Arab citizens and to dedicate themselves to dealing with the societal and economic problems that concern them. As a result, the voters abandoned the Arab parties en masse. The decreased voter turnout in the Arab sector was dramatic. In some places, it was down by over 30 percent.
These trends will continue in the coming Knesset election. But in order for them to be leveraged into dramatic change in the situation of Arab citizens and their relation with the state and its institutions, a few complementary processes are needed: first, the appearance of forces and leaders from within the Arab community that will [embrace an] agenda focused on bringing about change in the status of Arabs in Israel. Second, the Zionist parties must return to the Arab street, incorporate Arabs in their Knesset lists, and mainly, go out and talk to Arab voters. And they should do this not just to earn their votes come election day but to make them legitimate and long-term political partners. Should that happen, the country and its Arab citizens would set out on a new path.