Joint (Arab) List MK Abdullah Abu Maaruf on Wednesday formally submitted his resignation as part of the party’s rotation deal, the stalled implementation of which has threatened a fissure within the unified Arab Knesset list.
Maaruf, a Druze Israeli from the Hadash party, will be replaced by Sa’id Alharomi, of the Ra’am list. Alharomi was a former head of the Segev Shalom regional council in southern Israel.
Abu Maaruf’s resignation goes into effect on Friday.
The Joint List is a combination of four parties: the secularist-communist Hadash, the nationalist Balad, and the Ra’am and Ta’al parties. The parties merged in 2015, ahead of the last election, in a bid to drum up more votes among Arab Israelis.
As part of the 2015 agreements, two MKs — Abu Maaruf and Ta’al’s Osama Saadi — were to step down after two years.
The rotation deadline expired last month, setting off a bitter internal dispute.
The controversy revolved around the number of seats the Balad party should now receive as part of the deal, after one of its former MKs — Basel Ghattas — resigned and was imprisoned for smuggling cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners. Ghattas was replaced by Balad’s Juma Azbarga, who was originally slated to enter the Knesset instead of Saadi in the rotation agreement.
As a result, Balad was demanding a fourth Knesset member, arguing the deal was initially designed to increase the number of Balad MKs in parliament to four. It therefore sought to bump up its candidate to replace Saadi (Ta’al). However, the other Arab parties opposed the move, which would see their candidates — placed higher on the list than Balad’s Nibin Abu Rahmoun — short-changed.
A special committee was created to resolve the differences, with talks ongoing.
Saadi, who has not yet announced his resignation as part of the rotation deal, did not respond to a request for comment.