Analysis |

After Collapse of Joint List, Israeli Arabs Fear Poor Election Outcome

Will the four Arab-majority parties continue with the ego battles and internecine fighting that will seriously damage their chances at the polls?

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Members of the Joint List at the Knesset, October 15, 2018.
Members of the Joint List at the Knesset, October 15, 2018.Credit: David Bachar
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Now that the slates have been finalized, the four Arab parties that made up the Joint List in the last Knesset will have to address their voters' eroding trust. The situation worsened over the past week during the fraught negotiations between the four parties as they strove to recreate a united slate for the April 9 election.

The talks continued Thursday night right until the deadline for filing party tickets. The four parties decided to run as two separate lists: Ahmad Tibi’s Ta’al with Ayman Odeh’s Arab-Jewish Hadash, and Balad with the United Arab List. But the damage – and the deep rupture between the parties and the Arab community – was done.

>> Read more: The Joint List has no right to exist | Opinion ■ Needed: A Joint Jewish-Arab list | Opinion

Now the four parties will have to answer the hard questions raised during the week to restore the voters' trust and convince the indifferent to come out on Election Day. The party leaders and candidates have been speaking in the loftiest terms about national responsibility, the need to stop Israel's far right and the need to end the Netanyahu government, which pushed through the nation-state law and intends to bring Kahanists into the Knesset.

These would seem to be messages with a receptive audience. But through Thursday evening potential voters heard about ego battles and unnecessary wars over the division of Knesset seats and jobs; each party slung mud at the others. It was a scene that can only be described as humiliating and that will heighten the disgust of many Arab voters, many of whom may now stay home.

The real fight

All four parties say the main dispute focused on who would be awarded spots 11 to 14 on a joint slate. Hadash and United Arab List insisted that each of the two would have four spots in the first 12 – places considered likely to enter the Knesset based on the polls. Balad and Ta’al, meanwhile, said the other two parties should be satisfied with three seats. In the end, the dispute was almost entirely focused on the chances of each party’s most marginal candidates.

This makes clear the extent to which the parties understand the disappointment of their voters, a disappointment that will translate into a low voter turnout and a leakage of votes to the Zionist parties. Even by their own estimates, the parties believed that a joint slate was unlikely to win 13 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, the number won the last time around. This is a clear sign of a lack of confidence.

The voter turnout among Arabs was 63 percent in the 2015 election, almost 9 percent higher than in the 2013 vote. The creation of the Joint List significantly increased the number of Arab voters, also because of the warm relations among the parties. This time around, it's unlikely we'll see such a high turnout.

Party activists will go from door to door in the next few weeks trying to recruit voters. Most Arab mayors will join in the effort. But the voters who made the difference in previous campaigns, the nonideological, educated middle class, won't hurry.

These voters will demand answers and clarifications; for example, some activists will protest the way the parties have hooked up. It's no secret that many people in Hadash are angry over the agreement with Tibi, and there are people in both Balad and the Islamic Movement, whose southern branch is a strong component of United Arab List, who don't see the alliance as a natural choice.

True, a month and a half remains until Election Day. The question is whether the Arab parties will use this time to draw the necessary conclusions and launch a campaign that minimizes the damage caused by the last week. Or will they continue with the ego battles and internecine fighting that will seriously damage their chances at the polls?

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage