Though vowing to unite, Arab parties can’t agree who will lead

The major sticking point is which party should have the top place on a new Arab Joint List for the Knesset.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Arab-Israeli political parties been unable to agree on the formation of a new combined list for the Knesset, Israel Hayom reported Tuesday.

In 2015, the Joint List of Ra’am, Ta’al, Hadash and Balad became the third-largest alliance in the Knesset with 13 seats. However, they broke into two separate lists before the April 2019 elections. The Communist Hadash party unified with the secular, anti-Zionist Ta’al party, while Balad (the National Democratic Alliance), which advocates for Israel to cease being a Jewish state, ran with Ra’am, or the United Arab List (UAL), which is the political wing of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement.

Arab voters punished their leaders for splitting, as Hadash-Ta’al won six seats and Ra’am-Balad barely made it over the electoral threshold with four, meaning a loss of three seats overall.

The lesson seems to have been learned. When the 21st Knesset dissolved itself less than a month after it was sworn in, the Arab politicians vowed to reunite. When difficulties arose over the makeup of their combined list, an “Agreement Committee” was established a few weeks ago to iron out the problems.

The committee announced that there would be a press conference Monday to present the new Joint List but canceled it a few hours before it was to take place, the Israel Hayom report said.

One senior member of the committee told the paper, “There’s an agreement in principle about what the list will look like between places 4-9, but disagreement over places 1-3, and who will be placed in the second group of 10 of the Joint List, is currently preventing the announcement of its re-establishment.”

“This is despite everyone agreeing that the ideal situation is to run within a joint framework,” considering the loss of mandates in the previous elections,” he said, noting that “everyone” also understands that the Arab voter will “punish” the parties if they don’t unite.

“There’s a real danger that at least one of the four lists won’t make it over the electoral threshold” in such a case, the committee member said.

July 31st is the deadline for presenting the final lists of party representatives to the Central Elections Committee for the upcoming September 17 elections.