Three Arab parties agree on joint Knesset run; Balad expected to decide Sunday
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Three Arab parties agree on joint Knesset run; Balad expected to decide Sunday

Hadash, Ta’al and Ra’am reach deal to revive Joint List, after separate runs in the April elections; Ayman Odeh cites ‘second chance for us to unite in the face of hatred, racism’

MKs Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi react after submitting a joint list of candidates from their Hadash and Ta'al parties to the Central Elections Committee at the Knesset on February 21, 2019. (Hadash)
MKs Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi react after submitting a joint list of candidates from their Hadash and Ta'al parties to the Central Elections Committee at the Knesset on February 21, 2019. (Hadash)

Three of the four parties that made up the former Joint (Arab) List said Saturday they had reached an agreement to revive their electoral alliance for upcoming national elections.

The Hadash, Ta’al and Ra’am parties said they would run on a joint slate, with Balad set to decide in the next few days whether to join the union.

Speaking at a press conference Hadash leader Ayman Odeh said the alliance was necessary. “These elections are a second chance for us to unite in the face of hatred… in the face of racism, in the face of incitement,” he said. “We are coming back united and strong.”

He said the new Joint List would seek to bring down the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Joint List picked up 13 seats in the 2015 elections following its formation, making it the third largest faction in the Knesset. However, the union split ahead of elections in April into the separate Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad lists, which won 10 seats between them.

After fresh elections were called for September 17 following Netanyahu’s failure to form a government before the legal deadline, the Joint List sought to reconstitute the alliance but efforts to do so stalled amid disagreements between the parties over the makeup of the electoral slate.

Mtanes Shihadeh (center) of Balad and Abbas Mansour (right) of Ra’am at a press conference on March 28, 2019. (Courtesy of Ra’am-Balad)

Despite reportedly giving preliminary consent, Balad has yet to formally approve it and the party’s central committee was not set to meet until Sunday in order to discuss it, the Haaretz daily reported.

Balad chair Jamal Zahalka told the newspaper his party would not take part in Saturday’s press conference to announce the alliance and had unsuccessfully requested it be put off by a day.

The reported deal comes shortly before factions must submit their final slates to the Central Elections Committee and just days after Ta’al agreed to a proposal to bring back the Joint List, leaving Balad as the only one of the four Arab-majority parties not to do so.

In late June, the four parties authorized the Reconciliation Committee, a group made up of Arab academics, local leaders and other personalities, to put together the united slate on their behalf and it subsequently did so.

Arab MKs from the Hadash-Ta’al party hold a press conference after meeting with President Reuven Rivlin on April 15, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

But Ta’al and Balad objected to its proposals and demanded that the 12th slot on the slate, which it gave to Hadash, be transferred to their respective parties, a source with knowledge of the matter told The Times of Israel.

Many analysts have said the parties’ failure to revive the Joint List in the last elections led to lower Arab turnout. The Israel Democracy Institute estimated Arab turnout in April at 49.2 percent, compared to some 63.5% of Arab Israelis who cast ballots in the March 2015 national vote.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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