Conservative Faction Likely to Split From the Joint List, to Run on Its Own in Israel's Election

Jack Khoury
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United Arab List leader Mansour Abbas in Tel Aviv in October.
United Arab List leader Mansour Abbas in Tel Aviv in October.Credit: Moti Milrod
Jack Khoury

The United Arab List, one of the four parties that make up the primarily Arab Joint List Knesset slate, is expected to break away from the other three parties and run on its own in Israel’s March 23 election.

After holding talks into the wee hours of February 4, the three other factions – Hadash, Balad and Ta’al – announced they had reached an agreement, and that they would run together.  

The law requires the submission of Knesset slates for the March election by Thursday at 10 P.M. The deadline also applies to parties wishing to run on a joint slate.

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Efforts failed over the weekend to reach a compromise between United Arab List leader Mansour Abbas and Ayman Odeh, who heads the Joint List and is also the leader of Hadash.

According to the anticipated agreement, Odeh would continue to lead the Joint List, followed by Ta'al chairman Ahmad Tibi and newly elected Balad leader Sami Abu Shehadeh. The fourth slot on the ticket would be filled by Hadash lawmaker Aida Touma-Suleiman.

The fifth place on the slate is expected to be filled by Ta'al lawmaker Osama Saadi, followed by Hadash lawmaker Ofer Cassif; Balad lawmaker Heba Yazbak; Hadash lawmaker Yousef Jabareen. The ninth and tenth slots are expected to be filled by lawmakers from Balad and Ta'al.

At this point it appears that former Balad lawmaker Jamaa Azberga and Ta'al lawmaker Sondos Saleh will occupy the ninth and tenth places.   

Representatives of Hadash, Balad and Ta'al sign agreement to run together for March election.

The United Arab List announced in the beginning of this week that former Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghanaim would be joining the party, filling the second slot on the roster. The UAL are still holding talks with public figures in the Arab community, including Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam.

Salam will not be joining the party, but will publicly support the UAL and a representative on his behalf is expected to join its ranks. Party members are confident that the UAL will pass the electoral threshold to enter the Knesset even if it runs alone, although recent election polls show otherwise.

The polls have also shown that if the four parties run on two separate slates, it would increase the turnout among Arab Israelis.  

UAL leader Abbas has recently spoken in favor of cooperation in an effort to achieve gains for the country’s Arab community. Last week, prior to the split, he said his party would agree to rule out recommending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as candidate to form a coalition after the election on two conditions: that the Joint List agree not to support legislation running counter to Muslim religious law and that the other parties propose another candidate for prime minister.

After a failed round of talks last week, Abbas accused the other parties of not wanting to respect religious and traditional values, and of wishing to stay on the political sidelines. 

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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