Third Arab-majority party backs proposal to resuscitate Joint List

Third Arab-majority party backs proposal to resuscitate Joint List

Move by Ta’al means Balad is now the only Arab-majority party yet to accept offer to revive alliance, which fell apart before previous elections

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

MK Ahmad Tibi at his office at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on November 3, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
MK Ahmad Tibi at his office at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on November 3, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A third Arab-majority party has agreed to a proposal to reconstitute the Joint List, with approximately a week left for factions to submit their final slates to the Central Elections Committee ahead of the national vote on September 17.

Veteran Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi’s Ta’al party announced late Wednesday it accepted a proposal formulated by the Reconciliation Committee, a group made up of Arab academics, local leaders and other personalities, regarding the reconstitution of the Joint List, a coalition of the four largest Arab-majority parties in Israel, which had split into two alliances before the last Knesset elections in April.

The four parties are Hadash, Ta’al, Ra’am and Balad.

The announcement means that Balad is now the only party that has not accepted the committee’s proposal.

Tibi’s party said in a statement Wednesday: “Ta’al announces that it gives up on all of its just demands to change the positions on the slates and declares that it accepts the establishment of the Joint List on the basis of the Reconciliation Committee’s decision despite all of its reservations.”

In late June, the four parties authorized the committee to put together the united slate on their behalf and it subsequently did so.

But Ta’al and Balad objected to its offer 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.

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)

The Ta’al party said in its statement that it made the move to accept the committee’s proposal after Israel demolished several structures belonging to Palestinians in the Jerusalem area as well as the home of an Arab Israeli in Arara in northern Israel.

“In light of the home demolitions and violent crimes, the response is the Joint List immediately,” the statement said.

Asked whether Balad would ultimately accept the committee’s offer, party chairman Jamal Zahalka declined to comment.

Zahalka suggested last week that the committee formulation gave his party less than it deserves.

“Balad has a political program that we want to implement,” Zahalka said in a phone call at the time. “We will not accept a reduction of its status. We are not concerned about seats but rather making sure we can advance what we believe is right.”

The Joint List won 13 seats in the 120-member Knesset in 2015. Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad in April separately won a total of 10 seats.

Arab Israeli voters turned out in dramatically lower numbers for April’s vote compared to that of 2015.

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.

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