Three Arab Parties Announce Joint Run in Bid to Get Out the Vote; Fourth Remains Undecided

Prolonged negotiations end with Arab-majority Joint List, short of Balad, reinstated ahead of Israel's September ballot ■ Leadership vows to reject Trump's peace plan

Mansour Abbass (United Arab List), Ayman Odeh (Hadash) and Ahmad Tibi (Ta'al) at the press conference in Nazareth, July 27, 2019.
Rami Shlush

Three Arab-majority parties announced Saturday a joint run in Israel's September election, reinstating the Joint List in a bid to increase turnout among Israeli Arabs voters.

Following prolonged negotiations, Hadash, Ta'al and the United Arab List have agreed to join forces, while a fourth party that was part of the Joint List in 2015 is still in talks over joining the united ticket.

"We are declaring the establishment of the Joint List," said Hadash Chairman Ayman Odeh, who is tapped to lead the alliance, at a press conference.

He vowed to "bring down [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's government and revoke the nation-state law, ... prevent discrimination, plans of annexation and the destruction of the democratic sphere." Odeh also said the Joint List would work to reject the U.S. administration's Middle East peace plan, which has been denounced by the Palestinian leadership.

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"We believe in our nation and our voters," Odeh said. "We extend our hand to all democratic forces in the Jewish public so that they can support us."

He added the slate hopes that voter turnout among the Arab public will reach 70 percent on September 17. In 2015, the first time the Arab parties ran as the Joint List, Arab voter turnout hit 63 percent. In the previous election in April, when the four parties ran as two separate slates, 50 percent of the Arab public voted. 

United Arab List Chairman Mansour Abbas said that the alliance is a present need. "We're dealing with many difficulties in Arab society. The matter of construction, jurisdiction and the struggle against violence will be the main priorities."

Ta'al Chairman Ahmad Tibi called the declaration an important start and a milestone for raising Arab voter turnout and having stronger Arab representation. It allows Israeli Arabs to "take part in the possibility of regime change and switching the head of the government in order to bring down the 'deal of the century,'" he said, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan.

"Whoever thinks that they can take apologize and pull Arab votes the week before the slates are submitted is making a grave mistake," Tibi said, referring to Ehud Barak's apology on Tuesday for the death of 12 Arab citizens of Israel during protests in October 2000.

Balad, the fourth Arab party that was previously part of the Joint List, came to an agreement Friday that they will also appear on the joint ticket, but its central committee will meet Sunday to discuss it. Former Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka said that he asked the other parties to delay the press conference, but they refused.

Tibi expressed his disappointment, saying that they would have preferred to present the Joint List with representatives of all four parties, and that each delay damages the alliance’s standing.

In the April election, the four Arab parties ran as two united slates: Hadash-Ta’al and United Arab List-Balad. The parties started reaching out to each other ahead of the September election to reinstate the Joint List of Arab parties, which ran in previous elections. On Friday, the four parties came to the conclusion that the slate will be built in the following order: Hadash, Balad, the United Arab List and Ta’al.    

In addition, the parties decided that the head of the Joint List will be from Ta'al, the deputy speaker of the Knesset will be from the United Arab List, and that slots 11 through 14 will be given to the United Arab List, Hadash, Balad and Ta'al, in that order.

Last week, the reconciliation committee announced the four parties’ failure to reach an agreement. Most of the controversy revolved around the 11th through 14th slot on the party slate. Representatives from the parties agreed to resume negotiations.