Arab Joint List Asks to Relinquish Seats on Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Predominantly Arab party would prefer increased representation on the Finance Committee, to focus on improving the lot of its constituents.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Ahmed Tibi with other Joint List leaders during the election campaign.Credit: Gil Eliahu
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Joint List will not take up the seats on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that are its due as the third-largest faction in the 20th Knesset, the party revealed on Thursday.

The list is due to receive two seats on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and two on the Knesset Finance committee.

MK Ahmed Tibi, the list's representative on the steering committee that is allocating temporary seats on Knesset committees ahead of the establishment of a coalition, told the first steering committee meeting on Thursday that the party would relinquish its FA&D committee seats in return for four seats on the finance committee.

The Knesset is currently checking whether the Likud or any other party is willing to swap committee seats with the Joint List.

The request for increased representation on the finance committee is intended to signal the list's intention to focus on solving the economic problems of its voters, primarily the Arab community in Israel.

The Arab parties in the previous Knesset (they ran on a single list for the first time in the last elections) were criticized for focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the expense of looking out for the needs of the country's Arab community.

The likelihood of the Joint List gaining seats on the prestigious FA&D committee evoked considerable concern among the Jewish parties during the recent election campaign. Until now, representatives of the list's constituent parties have not sat on the committee, receiving instead representation on other Knesset committees.

While the Arab parties themselves were ideologically opposed to sitting on the FA&D committee, lest they appear to be partners to military actions against the Palestinians, the Jewish parties were opposed to the inclusion of Arab MKs in classified defense briefings.