In a bid to remain relevant with an increased electoral threshold, the three Arab parties and Communist party Hadash are to run on one list in the March 17 elections.
In an unprecedented, historic move, Israel’s Arab parties Hadash, Balad, Ta’al and Ra’am announced late Thursday night that they will run on a joint slate named “The Joint List” in the upcoming March 17 election.
The list will be headed by the Arab-Jewish Hadash party’s Ayman Odeh, who was elected party chairman last week, followed by Masud Ghnaim of the Islamist Ra’am and Balad’s Jamal Zahalka in third place. Ahmed Tibi (Ta’al) will take the fourth place, followed by Aida Touma-Sliman from Hadash, the first woman on the list.
Abdel Hakim Haj Yahia (Ra’am) will take the sixth place, and Hanin Zoabi (Balad, and the second woman on list) will be placed number seven. Eighth place will go to Hadash’s Dov Khenin, the only Jewish member of the slate who is likely to be elected, followed by Ra’am’s Taleb Abu Arar.
Yousef Jabareen of Hadash will take the tenth place, followed by Bassel Ghattas (Balad). Ra’am and Ta’al agreed to a rotation for spot 12 and 15, while Balad’s Jum’a Azbarga and Abdullah Abu-Ma’arouf (Hadash) will rotate between spots 13 and 14.
While the different Arab parties have historically run separately, a law spearheaded last year by Avigdor Liberman and Yair Lapid raised the election threshold to 3.25 percent (four seats), and effectively forced the parties to join forces in order to remain relevant. The new threshold has sparked a fierce debate about the possibility of giving an equal voice to all sectors of the Arab population, as well as the inclusion of Hadash’s Jewish members.
The parties began negotiations over the past dew days, after both Balad and Hadash elected their individual slates. The violent events in the Bedouin city Rahat, where two residents were killed by police, and the protests that came in their wake had an effect on the negotiations.
Following the announcement, MK Haneen Zoabi tweeted: “This is an historic achievement that will bolster the Arab public’s trust in their power and in the political game. [This is] the only democratic list in Israel: 100% for equality, 100% against occupation.” (My translation).
Most of the surveys have the list projected to receive 11 Knesset seats. According to a recent +972 poll, nearly 70 percent of Arabs citizens said they intend to vote if the three existing Arab parties run on a joint list, a significant increase compared to 56 percent who voted in the 2013 elections. Such an increase in voter participation could boost the new joint list.