Representatives of the mainly Arab Joint List are due to meet on Thursday with Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid as part of his effort to enlist support to be tapped by President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government.
According to Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, the decision on the matter will be made following the meeting where Lapid will be presented with demands to address pressing needs in Israel’s Arab community.
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Lapid needs to demonstrate to the Joint List that he has recommendations from at least 55 of the 120 Knesset members in the incoming parliament, Odeh, who is the chairman of the Joint List’s Hadash faction, told Radio Al-Shams.
“We will raise our demands and then we will decide,” he said, but even if Lapid accepts Odeh’s demands, it’s possible that the other two factions of the Joint List, particularly Balad, might decide not to recommend any candidate to the president.
Lapid’s Yesh Atid party has 17 seats in the incoming Knesset, making it the largest party in the bloc seeking to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power.
The demands that the Joint List will present to Lapid include combating violence in the Arab community, repealing the Kaminetz law (which provides for stricter enforcement of construction violations), increased funding for education and employment, the development of Arab towns and recognition of Negev villages that lack official status. Those demands are in addition to the repeal of the nation-state law (pertaining to Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people) and a commitment to the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
Joint List officials are trying to avoid a similar outcome of the Knesset election a year ago, after which they recommended that Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz be tapped to form the government, which the officials said helped pave the way for a split in the Joint List. Due to the split, the United Arab List faction ran separately in last week’s Knesset election.
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The United Arab List has been reticent to provide information on its own current political contacts. A senior United Arab List figure told Haaretz that a wide range of contacts are being pursued but that the party has not yet decided which direction it will take.
“We have no intention of closing doors, but we are aware of the fact that we have to show results,” the source said, adding that if the current efforts to form a new government fail and a fifth round of elections in two and a half years is held, the United Arab List “could lose everything.”
There is a growing sense, however, in the Joint List and the United Arab List, that a fifth round is the most likely outcome of the current negotiations