Arab parties finalize unity deal
New faction will be headed by political newcomer Ayman Odeh, and is expected to win some 12 seats in March’s elections
Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter
Israel’s Arab parties, Balad and Ra’am-Ta’al, signed a unity deal with the socialist, Arab-Jewish Hadash party and the Islamic Movement Thursday night, to run on a single ticket in March’s Knesset elections.
The party will be headed by Haifa attorney Ayman Odeh, a political newcomer who was elected head of Hadash — the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality — on Saturday. He will be followed on the list by Ra’am-Ta’al representative Masud Ghnaim and Balad head Jamal Zahalka, respectively.
MK Ahmad Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al), who was considered a favorite to lead the unified slate, will be placed in the new party’s fourth slot.
Slots five to 11 on the list will be given in order to a representative from Hadash, then the Islamic Movement, followed by Balad, then Ra’am-Ta’al, then back to top of the order. Seats 12 and up will alternate between Ta’al and the Islamic Movement. .
The controversial Balad lawmaker Hanin Zoabi will run in the seventh slot. Hadash’s Dov Khenin, who was placed eighth on the list, will likely be the only Jewish person on the list with a realistic shot at winning election
Legislators from Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad had been hard at work overcoming their own deep ideological differences and constructing a shared “pan-Arab” list that might stand a better chance of passing the 3.25 percent electoral threshold which passed into law last year.
Recent polls have shown that a joint Arab-majority party would garner up to 12 seats in the upcoming March 17 elections.
Israel’s Arab-majority political parties reportedly rejected an offer by Isaac Herzog, head of the Zionist Camp faction — the joint Labor-Hatnua list — to join a potential coalition led by him should he win the premiership in March’s national elections.
Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.