Israel Election: Arab Joint List Splinters as Parties Submit Final Lists

Netanyahu manages eleventh hour alliance, adding homophobic Noam to far-right ticket as Meretz, Labor submit separate lists in blow to Lapid ■ Almost one hour after deadline Balad splits from Hadash and Ta'al

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Hadash leader Ayman Odeh.
Hadash leader Ayman Odeh.Credit: Rami Shllush

The Israeli parties competing in the November 1 Knesset election have submitted their slates to the Central Election Committee ahead of the 10 P.M. deadline on Thursday, accompanied by political drama right up to the deadline and beyond.

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Almost an hour after the deadline to submit the rosters has passed, the three factions that make up the Joint List – Hadash, Balad and Ta'al – announced that Balad will run separately, a move that experts say will decrease voter turnout in the Arab community.

Meanwhile, Likud chairman and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu brokered an agreement between Israel's far-right parties, as well as an ultra-Orthodox merger aimed at consolidating the national camp's votes.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Prime Minister Yair Lapid submitted his own list on Wednesday with an emphasis on female representation. Despite his efforts to emulate his main rival for premiership by seeking to broker an alliance between the left-wing Labor and Meretz, the two parties have submitted their separate lists on Wednesday.

Disjointed List

Two hours before the deadline, Balad's Mtanes Shehadeh, who is sixth on the list, said he would refuse to resign from the Knesset after one third of a term to allow Hadash's Youssef Atauna, who is placed seventh, to move up one spot, in accordance with the factions' rotation agreement.

Sources in Hadash and Ta'al claim that Balad was trying to thwart the submission of the list due to the faction's internal disputes.

The Joint List is currently polling at five seats, a dramatic fall from 15 they managed to secure in March 2020, though the United Arab List has since splintered off and polls five seats on average as well.

The right unites

After convincing the Kahanist party Otzma Yehudit to continue running with far-right MK Bezalel Smotrich's Religious Zionism last month, Netanyahu also managed to add Noam, a far-right party that strongly opposes the rights of the LGBTQ and Reform Jewish communities, to their slate on Wednesday. The party's chairman, Avigdor "Avi" Maoz will be taking the 11th slot on Religious Zionism's slate.

Members of the LGBT community hold a banner reading in Hebrew "A homophobic Racist Has to Quit" during a rally against Israel's Education Minister Rafi Peretz, July 14, 2019.Credit: AFP

Netanyahu launched the reconciliation efforts between the two parties out of fear that Religious Zionism would not pass the threshold required to enter the Knesset. The addition of Noam hoovers up thousands more votes that would've likely gone to waste, with the far-right party having almost no chance of entering the Knesset independently.

The former prime minister also brokered a deal on Monday between the two factions of United Torah Judaism party, Agudat Israel and Degel Hatorah. The two sides had disagreed on demands for education budgets in future coalition negotiations, but managed to reach an accord in which the list will condition joining the next coalition on increasing budgets for particular Haredi schools and kindergartens.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu leaves a meeting with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, last week.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

In his own party, meanwhile, Netanyahu reserved spots for lawmakers who broke ranks from their parties to oppose the Lapid-Bennett coalition, as the party unveiled its full roster on Wednesday.

The list included Yamina renegades Amichai Chikli and Idit Silman, who left the coalition. Chikli was booted from Yamina in April due to his opposition to the ruling coalition formed last year, while Silman's abrupt resignation in April deprived the government of their slim majority.

Shaked not stirred

Unlike the troika of the Joint List, which mustered a last-ditch reunion, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked's bid to find a viable political project after former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett retired from public life goes on.

Shaked and lawmaker Yoaz Hendel announced on Sunday that they won't be running together in the right-wing Zionist Spirit party in the November election. Just two days after the pair announced the dissolution of their alliance, Shaked signed an agreement with Habayit Hayehudi, in which she will serve as party leader.

In light of the deal, Shaked said that she is "happy that we succeeded in rebuilding a home for religious Zionism and the responsible right in Israel. We will work together to establish a broad and stable right-wing government," but her party still lingers well below the 3.25 percent of votes required to enter the Knesset.

Hendel subsequently announced on Tuesday he will not run in the upcoming elections, releasing a statement taking responsibility for the party's collapse saying "I made a political mistake. But I hope and believe that I didn't make a moral mistake. I wish for the State of Israel, which is spinning around in these elections, to finally receive a good government – stable and functioning for many years, and may it consist of and accept all sections of Israeli society.”

Leftists running separately

On the other side of the political spectrum, Prime Minister Yair Lapid submitted his own list on Wednesday with an emphasis on female representation. Despite his efforts to emulate his main rival for premiership by seeking to broker an alliance between the left-wing Labor and Meretz, the two parties have submitted their separate lists on Wednesday.

The National Unity Party submitted its final roster for Israel's November election on Wednesday, with Defense Minister Benny Gantz taking the top slot and Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar and former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot placed in second and third position.

The fourth slot will go to the Minister of Immigration and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata, and the fifth to Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, who declared that "only the slate of the National Unity Party, with its experienced members, will be able to bring stability and routine to the Israeli society at this time."

Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu also submitted their slate to the Knesset's Central Elections Committee on Wednesday, with no major surprises.

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