Israel's Arab Parties to Resurrect Joint List in Bid to Regain Seats

Parties say they will try to overcome their differences and reach agreement over the slate they will run on by the end of June

Lawmakers from Hadash and Ta'al in April 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

The representatives of the four Arab parties in the Knesset announced Thursday that they are committed to reestablishing the Joint List ahead of the upcoming September 17 election.

Nonetheless, members of the Hadash, Ta'al, Balad and United Arab List factions have yet to reach an agreement over the slate, with the argument centering on who would man the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th spots.

Balad Chairman Mtanes Shehadeh and United Arab List Chairman Mansour Abbas in Nazareth, April 2019.
Gil Eliahu

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Hadash Secretary General Mansour Dehamshe and United Arab List Secretary General Ibrahim Hijazi confirmed the details Thursday morning in an interview with the Israeli Arab A-Shams radio station. Dehamshe added that the parties are expected to reach a final agreement by June 30.

In their joint statement, the parties said that their representatives are "fully committed to running together in a joint list, and start formulating the political agenda and strategic management plan."

The parties will also attempt to mend their differences over the slate. Last week Haaretz reported that they had agreed that the parties' representation on the slate will be based on the results of the last election, in which Hadash-Ta'al won six seats and United Arab List-Balad four.

However, each party is seeking to increase its representation on the slate by one seat. Hadash is interested in placing Jaber Asakleh, a Druze member of the party, in a spot high enough to have a reasonable chance of securing a seat. Balad wants to include Mazen Ganaim, which it sees as an electoral asset. Ta'al, meanwhile, hopes to ensure that at least one woman is on the slate, and wants to give Sondos Saleh a place somewhere between the 11th and 14th spots. It is also demanding representation for communities in the Negev area in these spots, which is usually claimed by United Arab List.

Some of the parties want decisions on the slate to be passed on to a reconciliation committee formed on the eve of the 2015 election, and which was significantly instrumental in deciding the makeup of the Joint List slate. A senior Balad official told Haaretz that turning to the committee would help the parties reconcile their differences.

The committee will also be asked to examine whether the Joint List should place an outside candidate who is unaffiliated with any of the parties in the number 15 slot, following calls for such a move among the Arab community. However, some members of the parties, mainly Ta'al Chairman Ahmad Tibi, have reservations over the committee's composition, which includes a number of intellectuals, social activists and representatives from the National Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Authorities.