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Government said weighing postponing elections in 12 Arab localities due to crime

The government has discussed ordering the postponement of municipal elections in some Arab towns, in a drastic measure that would aim to prevent criminal interference in local governance, according to a Thursday report.

The step was discussed on Thursday at a meeting of the ministerial committee headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aimed at combating the rampant violent crime in Arab communities, Channel 12 reported. A series of recent attacks have targeted local politicians and mayoral candidates in Arab municipalities.

During the meeting, the Shin Bet and police raised concerns of criminal interference in local decision-making bodies, or of threats against candidates, the report said.

Officials at the meeting proposed delaying elections by three months in 12 Arab municipalities seen to be at risk. The specific municipalities were not named in the Channel 12 report.

Committee members also proposed appointing provisional city councils under the direct control of the Interior Ministry in the high-risk localities to stand in for the mayor and city council, in place of elected officials, the report said.

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Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara asked for further information in order to formulate a legal opinion on the proposal, the report said.

Responding to the report, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid decried the prospect of postponing the elections, asserting the government has no authority to do so.

“The government’s role in a democratic country is to ensure elections in any situation,” he wrote on X.

The Interior Ministry meanwhile vowed to act with “full transparency” if the government decides on changing the dates of any municipal elections.

“If law enforcement and intelligence sources warn about a real and well-founded concern about election integrity in a given municipality, the government will take the necessary steps to fully ensure the right to vote and be elected,” the ministry said in a statement.

Last month, the committee tasked the Shin Bet internal security service with assisting police operations in combating some crime in Arab communities, including in all matters related to safeguarding the municipal elections.

The Shin Bet has identified 15 to 20 Arab regional councils where there are threats to candidates, voters or public officials from crime families, the Kan public broadcaster reported last month.

At least 171 people have been killed this year during the record-setting violent crime wave in Arab communities, according to the anti-violence advocacy group the Abraham Initiatives.

The violence has increasingly spilled into municipal politics in recent weeks, with threats and attacks directed against mayors, candidates, other municipal officials, and their families.