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      Polls Project More Druze Knesset Members

      There will be more Druze Knesset Members in the next Knesset, according to pre-election polls.
      By Hana Levi Julian
      First Publish: 2/2/2009, 8:50 AM

      Israel News Photo-Flash 90

      Five Druze candidates from various parties are likely to be elected to Israel's parliament in the February 10 voting, according to the latest polls.

       

      However, the Druze are not necessarily winning popularity solely due to their status as Druze but rather are attracting attention based on their political merits as representatives of their communities within their parties. Druze Israelis, most of who live in the north, serve in the IDF and in general participate in all aspects of Israeli society.

       

      Kadima's Deputy Foreign Minister Majali Whbee, a Druze, told the Hebrew-language Ha'aretz newspaper on Sunday, "I personally plan to represent my people faithfully, but also anyone who voted for my party, no matter what sector they come from. I believe in our involvement in Israeli society, not in separate parties."

       

      Balad party MK Said Naffa'a, by contrast, contends that the Druze are really Arabs, and their connection is one not "determined by Zionist party politicians or Herzl. The gamble on the Zionist parties was a failure as can be seen from the difficult situation of the community," he said. Naffa'a added that "Ideological voting only exists in our case – that is, in the Arab parties."

       

      Even the Russian immigrant party Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home), which this year began also to reach out to the Anglo voting bloc by adding former Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon to the list, has included a Druze candidate.

       

      Hamad Amar, a resident of the village of Shfaram, has been a quiet and long-time activist in the party and will now get his chance to run – and probably a chance to sit in the Knesset as well, given the current predictions that Yisrael Beiteinu will win 16 seats in the next Knesset.

       

      The party's slogan, "No citizenship without loyalty," is a natural one for his community, said Amar.

       

      As of 2008, there was a total population of 120,000 Druze citizens, comprising some 1.6 percent of Israel's multicultural population. Five Druze legislators would comprise four percent of the Knesset's 120-seat membership.