Ramadan Dabash wants to help the residents of his village of Sur Baher in particular, and east Jerusalem in general, improve their living conditions. He wants them to receive better services from the Jerusalem Municipality. The 52-year-old businessman and social activist, however, has been facing a campaign of threats by several Palestinian leaders and administrative bodies over his decision to run in the municipal election, slated for October 2018.
Recently, Dabash announced his decision to run in the upcoming election at the head of an Arab list called Jerusalem for Jerusalemites. He has repeatedly made it clear this summer that his decision is not politically motivated and that his only intention is to seek improved municipal services for the Arab residents of Jerusalem. Dabash has also called on Arab voters to end their boycott of the municipal election because they are the only ones who stand to lose from such a move.
Facing threats and pressure from various Palestinian factions and leaders, most of the Arab residents of Jerusalem have been boycotting the municipal election under the pretext that participation in the vote was tantamount to recognizing Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem, which was annexed to Israel in 1980. This boycott has hurt the Arab residents themselves, who were left without representatives in the municipal council, someone who would fight for their rights. The Jerusalem Municipality has, despite the absence of Arab representatives, continued to provide various and basic services to the Arab residents of the city.
Dabash believes that it is time for the Arab residents to take matters took into their own hands by participating in the municipal election. “I want to help my people because we’re not getting all the services they deserve from the municipality,” he said.