Alliance of Israeli Arab Parties to Split Ahead of March Election

Jack Khoury
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Mansour Abbas, left, Aida Touma-Sliman, Ahmad Tibi and Mtanes Shehadeh from the Joint List after meeting with Kahol Lavan representatives in Jerusalem, March 11, 2020.
Mansour Abbas, left, Aida Touma-Sliman, Ahmad Tibi and Mtanes Shehadeh from the Joint List after meeting with Kahol Lavan representatives in Jerusalem, March 11, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman
Jack Khoury

The Joint List alliance of Arab majority parties will split ahead of the upcoming election, the parties announced Wednesday after talks between its four constituent parties collapsed. 

Following a two-hour meeting in Shfaram, representatives of three of the parties – Hadash, Ta’al, and Balad – said they had failed to reach an agreement that would make it possible for all four to run together.

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The representative of the fourth party, the United Arab List, left the meeting and was not present when the announcement was given.

“We must admit to the Arab public that we did not manage to reach agreements,” said Mansour Dahamshe, secretary general of Hadash. Knesset member Osama Saadi, who represents the Ta’al party, said that the parties had not managed to come to a consensus and therefore there was no choice but to announce the breakup of the Joint List in its current form. 

United Arab List Chairman Mansour Abbas accused the other parties of not wanting to respect religious and traditional values, and of wishing to stay on the political sidelines. 

Haaretz has learned that the United Arab List is also pursuing its own separate contacts in the Arab community in an effort to recruit a possible new UAL candidate. Among those contacted have been former Sakhnin mayor Mazin Ghanaim and Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam.

At this stage, it’s not yet clear whether Ta’al might even decide to run jointly with Hadash and Balad, which have agreed to run on a joint slate, or whether it would pursue a link-up with the United Arab List.

During the meeting on Wednesday, the UAL representative said the party would agree to rule out recommending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as candidate to form a coalition after the election under two conditions: that the Joint List agree not to support any legislation opposing Muslim religious law, and that the other parties propose a different candidate for prime minister to recommend. 

Members of the Joint List were voicing skepticism on Tuesday over the prospect that the slate would remain united for the March election, in light of the UAL’s demands regarding the Joint List platform and for the right to vote independently of the rest of the parties.

On Wednesday, before the split was announced, Abbas told Kan Bet public radio that if the Joint List split into two slates, there would be no risk of either failing to pass the electoral threshold required for entering the Knesset.

Other members of the Joint List have criticized Abbas in recent months for appearing too willing to cooperate with Netanyahu, after he was interviewed by a news channel aligned with the prime minister and voted in favor of retroactively canceling the vote to set up a commission of inquiry into allegations of a corrupt deal involving the prime minister. 

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