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Elections 2015

Joint Arab List kicks off Hebrew-language campaign

Chairman Ayman Odeh says party will fight racism and appeal to Jewish and Muslim voters; polls show it could win 12 seats

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Joint Arab List members (from left to right), Ayman Odeh, Masud Ghanayem, Jamal Zahalka and Ahmad Tibi sit together during a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 11, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/GIL COHEN-MAGEN)
Joint Arab List members (from left to right), Ayman Odeh, Masud Ghanayem, Jamal Zahalka and Ahmad Tibi sit together during a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 11, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/GIL COHEN-MAGEN)

The Joint Arab List launched its Hebrew language campaign Wednesday ahead of the upcoming March 17 elections, announcing that its target audience will be both Jews and Arabs “who want to fight for equality, democracy and peace.”

The campaign, which will run under the title “the Joint List, my answer to racism,” kicked off at an event in Tel Aviv with the participation of the leaders of the four parties comprising the unified slate.

“This government has led an unprecedented campaign of incitement against the Arab public, expressed in violence in the streets, and increasing institutional racism and discrimination in the country,” Joint List head Ayman Odeh said at the event.

Odeh, a political newcomer who was elected head of Hadash — the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality — added that “those who do not want us in the Knesset, who raised the electoral threshold in order to leave us out, are discovering now that we have great political power and significance. We appeal to all those who are disadvantaged in Israel and promise that in the next Knesset we will represent you all.”

Israel’s Arab parties, Balad and Ra’am-Ta’al, signed a unity deal with the socialist, Arab-Jewish Hadash late last month to run on a single ticket in March’s Knesset elections. Legislators from Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad had been hard at work overcoming their own deep ideological differences and constructing a shared list that might stand a better chance of passing the electoral threshold, which was raised to 3.25 percent of the popular vote last year.

Recent polls have shown that the joint Arab-majority party would garner 12 seats, and possibly more.

The Joint Arab List has rejected an offer by Isaac Herzog, head of the Zionist Union — the joint Labor-Hatnua list — to join a potential coalition led by him should he win the premiership in March’s national elections.

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