Arab list could work with Zionist Union to block Netanyahu, MK says

Ahmad Tibi tells The Times of Israel that ‘occupation’ prevents his list from joining the government, but doesn’t preclude other forms of cooperation

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

MK Ahmad Tibi participates in a panel discussion at the Israel Conference on Democracy, in Tel Aviv on February 17, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)
MK Ahmad Tibi participates in a panel discussion at the Israel Conference on Democracy, in Tel Aviv on February 17, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)

While the Joint (Arab) List will definitely not join the next government, it may decide to form an obstructive bloc with the Zionist Union to prevent incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming the coalition, a senior lawmaker with the faction said on Tuesday.

Speaking to The Times of Israel on the sidelines of Haaretz’s Israel Democracy Conference, Ahmad Tibi, former head of the Ta’al faction and number four on the Joint List, said that his party will decide on the extent of cooperation with the Zionist Union headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni only following the elections.

“Our goal is toppling the right, yet we have many problems with the Zionist Union, so the matter isn’t clear-cut,” Tibi said.

The Zionist Union decided last week to support the disqualification of MK Hanin Zoabi, number seven on the list, and right-wing candidate Baruch Marzel, despite the position of attorney general Yehuda Weinstein who urged they be allowed to run.

Zoabi’s attorney Hassan Jabareen told The Times of Israel earlier this month that by disqualifying Zoabi, the Zionist Union would be dooming itself to the opposition.

CZionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni (photo credit: Flash90)
Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni (photo credit: Flash90)

But on Tuesday, Tibi sounded less indignant toward the Zionist Union, and the prospects of Arab cooperation with it.

“We cannot be part of the coalition, since conditions are not ripe and the reality of occupation imposes itself. There’s no politician or party who doesn’t want to influence; and we’ll have to find a different mechanism to do that from the opposition. We can create an obstructive bloc.”

In 1992, the Arab parties supported the Rabin government from outside the coalition, and Tibi said such a scenario could repeat itself in March.

“We will engage whoever is needed and obtain rights for the Arab public in a written agreement like in 1992,” he said.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid speak with Israeli students at the Blich High School in Ramat Gan on February 11, 2015. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid speak with Israeli students at the Blich High School in Ramat Gan on February 11, 2015. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Ahead of the previous elections in 2013, Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid said he would not join an obstructive bloc with the Arab parties — which he referred to collectively with the derogatory term “the Zoabis” — to oppose Netanyahu.

Citing new polling data that gives the Joint List 13 seats in the next Knesset, possibly making it the third largest faction, Tibi nevertheless said that his party’s campaign hasn’t yet begun in earnest.

“I suppose that if we gain more than 13 seats, our ability to trump fascist lists will grow, and this will be a decisive factor on the day after elections,” he said.

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