Haneen Zoabi and Jamal Zahalka.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Balad head Jamal Zahalka showed optimism on Sunday saying the Arab parties would form a united bloc in the upcoming elections despite less enthusiasm from others.
“I hope that within a week or two we will decide to unite the Arab political parties,” Zahalka told Army Radio in an interview.
Zahalka said that his party was not planning on running alone and that the talks are progressing to create a joint list, which will be good for the Arab public.
Asked about how Arab parties with different ideologies can unite, Zahalka played down differences responding that each party can keep its ideology, but together push for specific common goals.
“Ninety-five percent of the time we vote the same way,” he said referring to the three Arab parties.
The parties – United Arab List-Ta’al, Hadash and Balad – have been unable to close a deal to run together, much less agree on who would lead the new grouping for elections scheduled on March 17.
The decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25% of the vote has forced the parties to band together in order to win seats.
Hadash MK Dov Henin was interviewed on Army Radio following the Balad head, and showed considerably less enthusiasm over a united list. He emphasized poll numbers that show Balad would fail to make it into the Knesset on its own while Hadash would get 5 seats.
Henin stressed the need to bring more Jews into the mix in order to fight “racism,” which could be an alternative solution, making unity a Jewish-Arab issue as opposed to only an Arab one.
A knowledgeable political source told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that Zahalka is “pushing for unity and spreading disinformation” even though negotiations are not progressing smoothly because Balad is pressured by polls showing that it will not make it into the next Knesset.
The Balad head has internal party pressure and has not yet reached the support needed to reassure another term as party head, claimed the source.
The source said that within Hadash there is disagreement on whether to support a united list or not.
“Hadash prefers unity, but not with Balad or the Islamic Movement’s party,” said the source, adding that the southern Islamic Movement prefers to lead a united list itself.