Headed for 15 seats, Joint List chief claims ‘huge’ success, cites Jewish voters
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Headed for 15 seats, Joint List chief claims ‘huge’ success, cites Jewish voters

Ayman Odeh urges left not to despair but to consider ‘partnership and a principled alternative,’ points out his mainly Arab alliance was sole opposition party to win more seats

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

Head of the Joint List party Ayman Odeh speaks to the media outside his home in Haifa, March 3, 2020 (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)
Head of the Joint List party Ayman Odeh speaks to the media outside his home in Haifa, March 3, 2020 (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh declared on Tuesday that the alliance of four Arab-majority parties had realized a “huge achievement” in Monday’s national elections after nearly final results suggested it had won 15 seats in the Knesset.

“Brothers and sisters, you have created a historic day,” Odeh said in a recorded statement in Arabic. “From the first elections in 1949 until today, we have not received this degree of support and this number of seats.”

The almost final results of the elections showed that more than 530,000 Israelis voted for the Joint List.

In a separate statement to reporters in Hebrew, Odeh said that the Joint List received votes from many Jews and contended that it needed to become “the principled alternative for the entire Israeli political map.”

“I call on left-wingers not to despair or soul-search, but rather to think about partnership and a principled alternative,” he said, adding that he was talking about “real peace and democracy, actual equality between Arabs and Jews and social justice for all disadvantaged persons.

“As of this moment, we will strengthen the cooperation between us and the weak groups of Israeli society,” he said.

Asked if the Joint List was the “new left,” Odeh did not directly answer the question but stated that the alliance would “strengthen the left and the Jewish-Arab alternative.”

Ayman Odeh (C), leader of the Hadash party that is part of the Joint List alliance, gives an address with other alliance leaders at their electoral headquarters in Israel’s northern city of Shefaram on March 2, 2020, after polls officially closed. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

Several Joint List officials have recently said that they want the alliance to play a greater role in influencing decision-making.

Odeh also pointed out that the Joint List was the only party in the opposition– according to the nearly final results — to increase its representation in the Knesset.

“With the exception of the Joint List, they all went down,” he said.

The almost final results suggested that Blue and White would retain its role as the largest parting in the opposition but would drop from 33 to 32 MKs; they also indicated that the Labor-Gesher-Meretz alliance would only win six seats.

In his recorded statement in Arabic, Odeh also accused Blue and White of failing to become “an alternative to the right” and instead having adopted right-wing positions.

In contrast to the last two elections in April and September 2019, Blue and White made a concerted and consistent effort to reach out to right-wing voters.

For example, Blue and White chief Benny Gantz said in an interview in late February that one of his party’s options would be to establish a government with “a Jewish majority.”

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