Israel Election: Three of Four Joint List Factions Run Together, United Arab List to Go Solo

Ayman Odeh will continue to lead the slate after nighttime talks that left the United Arab List by the wayside, after long-running disputes over cooperation with Netanyahu and religious tensions

Jack Khoury
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Members of the Joint List in the Knesset following the March 2020 election
Members of the Joint List in the Knesset following the March 2020 electionCredit: Emil Salman
Jack Khoury

Three of the four factions of Joint List – Hadash, Ta'al and Balad – have signed an agreement for a united bid for Israel's March election, parting ways with the conservative United Arab List after a prolonged period of disagreements.

After holding talks into the late hours of Wednesday night, the three factions announced they had struck a deal to submit a list to the Central Election Committee deadline prior to the deadline on Thursday at midnight.  

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

Ayman Odeh (Hadash) will continue to lead the slate, and will be followed by Ta'al leader Ahmad Tibi and then the newly elected Balad chairman Sami Abu Shehadeh. Prominent Hadash lawmakers Aida Touma-Sliman and Ofer Cassif, the sole Jewish MK on the list, will take fourth and sixth place respectively.

The fifth place on the slate is occupied by Osama Saadi (Ta'al), with seventh slot taken by Balad lawmaker Heba Yazbak and the eighth slot taken by Hadash lawmaker Yousef Jabareen. The ninth and tenth positions will to be filled by Jamaa Azberga (Balad) and Sondos Saleh (Ta'al).

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Meanwhile the United Arab List submitted their slate for the Knesset on Wednesday, with MK Mansour Abbas as the party’s leader. Former Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghanaim will be number two on the list, followed by MK Iman Khatib-Yasin.

Abbas responded to rumors that he would support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the election, saying he made “no commitment” to him or anyone else. His party will consider “every proposal" and serve the interest of Arab society, he added. 

“We have a special place in Israeli politics; we are not right or left. We do not belong to any camp. We want to promote Arab society and will meet whoever approaches us.”

Nazareth Mayor Ali 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 Arabs.  

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 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. The factions have previously clashed heads over LGBTQ issues as well.

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