Arab Party's Balad Faction Considers Backing Gantz for PM

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The leaders of the Joint List.
The leaders of the Joint List.Credit: Gil Eliyahu

The leaders of Balad faction within the Arab-majority Joint List are considering to back Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz as their prime ministerial candidate, after refusing to do so following the previous election, according to sources within the party.

The party's chairman, Mtanes Shehadeh, will attend Gantz's meeting with the Joint List on Wednesday. Members of his party told Haaretz on Tuesday that, should Gantz agree to their demands, they would recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that the Kahol Lavan leader receive the mandate to form a government.

The demands include refraining from unilateral steps such as annexing settlements or altering the status quo on the Temple Mount. Balad also seeks a repeal of the so-called Kaminitz Law, which increased the penalties for illegal construction.

Another possibility, a Balad source said, is that the party will oppose recommending Gantz when the Joint List’s leadership meets to decide its position, but if it is outvoted by the other three parties on the ticket, it will fall in line with the majority’s decision.

“As of now, our position is that we won’t recommend Gantz," the source said. “But if Kahol Lavan presents progressive positions on key issues, we could change our minds.”

A Kahol Lavan source said the party “didn’t invite representatives from Balad, but we don’t decide for them who represents them,” referring to the Joint List.

Meanwhile, Gesher party head Orli Levi-Abekasis, who ran on a joint ticket with the left-wing Labor and Meretz parties, announced Tuesday that she won’t support any government reliant on the Joint List.

Meretz MKs, including the party's current and former leaders, Nitzan Horowitz and Tamar Zandberg, have called for Levi-Abekasis to resign from the Knesset in light of her announcement.

On Tuesday, Shehadeh and MK Sami Abu Shehadah, also of Balad, urged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be ousted. “For Netanyahu, any incitement is permitted and everything is legitimate in a miserable attempt to keep his job,” Shehadeh wrote.