Joint List says it will back Wednesday bill to dissolve Knesset

MK says current government worse for Arabs then previous ones; if it fails, opposition can’t resubmit for 6 months; Ra’am reportedly holding talks with Joint List on reuniting

MK Ahmad Tibi attends a Joint Arab list faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Ahmad Tibi attends a Joint Arab list faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on March 7, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Joint List bloc of Arab parties announced on Tuesday that they would vote to dissolve the Knesset should the opposition bring the motion to the floor.

The three mostly Arab factions explained the decision as based on their principled objection to the current Israeli government led by premier Naftali Bennett.

“This government, on issues critical to the Arab public, is worse than the previous one,” Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi told Army Radio.

Mansour Dahamsheh, the secretary-general of Hadash — one of the factions within the Joint List — similarly told The Times of Israel that if a motion to dissolve the Knesset is brought to a vote, the Communist Arab-Jewish party’s three MKs will vote in favor.

“Without a doubt,” Dahamsheh said.

Another Hadash official confirmed Dahamsheh’s remarks, but argued the right-wing opposition is “not stupid enough” to bring a motion it may not win.

Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh of the Arab Joint List during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on July 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

If the opposition brings such a motion to a vote but fails to muster a majority lawmakers in support, it cannot bring another such motion for the next six months.

Should a law to disperse the Knesset and force snap elections be brought and preliminarily passed, it would then move to committee for preparation before being sent back to the Knesset for its three readings.

If it passed its third reading, the Knesset would dissolve and new elections would be scheduled.

Wednesday’s potential preliminary vote to disperse parliament is scheduled to be held two days after two no-confidence motions were put forward by the opposition but fell short of the votes needed to remove the coalition from power.

A Likud-proposed measure on Monday only attracted 52 votes in favor versus 61 against, while a separate Shas-backed motion was similarly unsuccessful, with 52 for and 56 against. Those no-confidence motions would have been embarrassing to the government but limited in effect even if they had passed with a simple majority, as the opposition lacked the 61 votes necessary to replace the government without dissolving parliament via this process.

Key to the motions’ failure was the six-member Joint List party’s lawmakers, who either voted against or were not present in the plenum.

Meanwhile, Channel 12 news said in an unsourced report on Tuesday that senior officials in Ra’am and the Southern Islamic Movement’s Shura Council — an advisory body to the party — have held talks with the Joint List on possibly reuniting in the event of new elections.

Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas attends the INSS conference in Tel Aviv on April 11, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)

Ra’am was previously part of the Joint List, which is made up of several factions, but it ran alone in the March 2021 elections.

It later joined the ruling coalition which took office in June, making it the first Arab Israeli party to do so in decades, though it recently froze its membership in the coalition due to tensions in Jerusalem.

Acting coalition chairman Boaz Toporovsky on Monday acknowledged that the coalition was in the midst of a “serious crisis” in regard to Ra’am freezing its membership but expressed cautious optimism that the coalition would survive.

On Tuesday, however, he voiced a more urgent concern.

“Yesterday, we were able to postpone the no-confidence motion and pass three bills, but if this crisis continues it poses a real threat to the coalition,” he said in an interview with Army Radio.

“The disagreements with Ra’am are not about the Temple Mount, but about them not seeing sufficient results in regard to Israel’s Arab citizens,” he noted.

MK Boaz Toporovsky speaks during a Knesset plenum session, May 20, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

On Monday, a television poll found that if elections were to be held, Ra’am would not pass the minimum threshold needed to retain any seats in parliament.

The survey also found that the parties currently in the government coalition would drop by several seats into a minority in the Knesset, but the opposition bloc of parties led by Likud would fall just short of a majority.

The Channel 13 news poll showed Likud would win 36 seats, Yesh Atid 18, Religious Zionism 9, Yamina 8, Joint List 8, Blue and White 7, Shas 7, UTJ 7, Labor 6, Yisrael Beytenu 5, Meretz 5, and New Hope 4.

Carrie Keller-Lynn contributed to this report.

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