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Likud flip-flops on disqualifying Arab parties, calls attempts a ‘circus’

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

The Likud party is boycotting the Central Elections Committee’s ongoing hearings on whether or not to disqualify two Arab parties, calling the matter a “political circus” geared towards harming its right-wing bloc.

Without Likud representation, the committee has already voted to dismiss petitions filed against Ra’am, and will discuss Balad’s case later this afternoon.

“Today the circus continues to try to disqualify Balad in order to kosher Ra’am, Hadash and Ta’al. The whole process is designed to save votes in the left bloc and harm the right bloc,” reads a statement released by Likud.

“We will not participate in this show,” the Likud statement adds.

In the past, Likud has petitioned both the Central Elections Committee and the High Court of Justice to disqualify the Joint List and lawmakers from Balad.

Balad split from its Arab political partners in the now dissolved Joint List, and is not expected to clear the electoral threshold to make it into Knesset without Hadash-Ta’al. Its leader has pledged to run until the end, eating votes that might otherwise have gone for Hadash-Ta’al.

While Ra’am bucked tradition and joined the outgoing coalition last June, Balad and Hadash-Ta’al constitute a non-aligned wedge, opposed to camps both in favor of Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and against him.

Knesset seats are allocated by a proportional share of votes. If Balad were to burn votes and shrink the non-aligned Arab wedge, it would proportionally grow the size of the other two blocs. As the Likud-led camp is currently outpolling the outgoing coalition’s bloc, it is best poised to benefit from Balad staying in the race.

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