The Hadash party council approved by a large majority on Saturday the continuation of talks to form a unified list with other Arab parties in the coming elections.
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The heated five-hour debate saw those who support chairman Mohammed Barakeh's stance in favor of the unified list, which he said would ensure the Arab sector is adequately represented, face off with those who support the party's secretary general, who opposes the move, and believes in the need for cooperation with Israeli society and democratic Jewish elements.
The council voted in favor of pursuing a unified list, under the conditions that Jewish-Arab cooperation would be given a place in the new list, that women would be represented, and that the Hadash agenda would be accepted.
Should the talks fail, the council agreed that Hadash would either seek a joint ticket with United Arab List or would run on its own.
The unification with the Arab parties is considered to be a necessity, not a choice, by Hadash members, who are concerned the raised election threshold will keep them out of the Knesset. Hadash is also concerned the Arab sector would blame the party for the talks' failure, and would punish them in the coming elections.
However, the talks between the Arab parties have not yet reached any conclusion. A clearer picture will emerge only after the parties elect their nominees for the Knesset mid-January.
The star of Saturday's meeting was former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg, who attended the meeting as a member for the first time. Hadash Chairman Barakeh's announcement of Burg's membership was warmly received by the council.
Burg said he has no intention of running for the Knesset, and stressed his objection to a unified list with a nationalistic agenda.
"Politically, I left the Jewish national arena because it turned nationalistic," Burg said, and added he does not intend to support another form of nationalism.