Ahead of key deadline, Arab parties haven’t reached deal to revive Joint List
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Ahead of key deadline, Arab parties haven’t reached deal to revive Joint List

Without agreement, two of the Arab parties will most likely make a bid for office together, while the others will probably run alone

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Arab Joint list candidates (from L-R) MK Jamal Zahalka, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh, and MK Ahmad Tibi raise their hands at the party's headquarters in the city of Nazareth, March 17, 2015, as they react to exit polls. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
Arab Joint list candidates (from L-R) MK Jamal Zahalka, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh, and MK Ahmad Tibi raise their hands at the party's headquarters in the city of Nazareth, March 17, 2015, as they react to exit polls. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

The four major Arab-majority factions have still not reached an agreement to run again on a joint list for the upcoming Knesset elections, officials said, a day before the Thursday deadline for declaring election slates.

In the last elections in 2015, the four parties ran together on the Joint (Arab) List, winning 13 seats and becoming one of the largest factions in the opposition. The Joint List was composed of the Arab Movement for Renewal, Balad, the United Arab List and the mixed Arab and Jewish Hadash Party.

They made the move to run together after the Knesset raised the electoral threshold, increasing the percentage of votes a party must win to earn a seat in the 120-seat parliament from 2 to 3.25 percent.

Talks were ongoing on Wednesday to bring back the Joint List structure for the April 9 vote, but success seamed unlikely with veteran Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi, the head of Arab Movement for Renewal, insisting his party would run alone.

In early January, Tibi formally removed Arab Movement for Renewal from the Joint List.

Balad and the United Arab List announced an agreement in principle on Wednesday that they would run on the same slate. But officials in the two parties said they would not team up again with Hadash unless Tibi’s faction also joined.

Tibi has said Arab Movement for Renewal, which surveys have indicated could receive 6-7 seats in the elections, will run alone and the party’s central committee has reiterated that position.

Mtanes Shihadeh, a top official in Balad running for Knesset, said Wednesday evening that the door had not closed on the possibility of resuscitating the Joint List.

Mtanes Shihadeh, who secured the top spot on the Israeli Arab Balad party slate. (Courtesy of Balad party)

Shihadeh added Balad and the United Arab List would not form a tripartite slate with Hadash, if the efforts to bring back the Joint List fail.

“There are points that we do not agree on in terms of policy and list formation,” he said in a phone call when asked about the possibility of three-party list including Hadash, declining to elaborate.

A spokesman for the United Arab List also dismissed the option of teaming up with Hadash to create a three-party slate.

Hadash is a socialist party that emphasizes Jewish-Arab collaboration.

Adel Omar, a Hadash official, said on Wednesday that while his party’s hands were still extended to run with the other Arab parties, it was also prepared to run on its own.

Parties must finalize and submit their slates to the Central Elections Committee by Thursday at 10PM.

The AP contributed to this article.

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