Arab parties reach historic deal, unite for upcoming election

A decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent of the vote to win seats in the Knesset has forced the parties to band together.

January 23, 2015 02:57
2 minute read.
Ahmed Tibi

MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL - Ta'al) in the Knesset.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Arab parties closed a historic unity deal to form a united bloc for the general election.

Despite the united list, the parties maintain unresolved ideological differences, but the move is meant to gain the maximum number of Knesset seats.

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United Arab List, Ta’al, Hadash and Balad struck the deal Thursday night. The discussions revolved around running together on one list or on two.

The decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent of the vote to win seats in the Knesset has forced the parties to band together.

The list will be led by new Hadash head Ayman Odeh, followed by the southern Islamic Movement’s United Arab List’s Masud Gnaim, Balad head Jamal Zahalka in the third slot, and Ta’al head Ahmed Tibi fourth.

They are followed by Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash), Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya (United Arab List), Haneen Zoabi (Balad), Dov Henin (Hadash), Taleb Abu Arar (United Arab List), Basel Ghattas (Balad) and Yosef Jabareen (Hadash).

The 12th through 15th spots are to be shared in a rotation between some of the parties.

The committee dealing with efforts to unite the parties was meeting in Kafr Kari, and an unnamed source involved in the talks called it a historic and unprecedented agreement, Channel 2 reported.

Hanna Swaid, a retiring MK from the Arab-Jewish Hadash party, told The Jerusalem Post’s chief political correspondent Gil Hoffman on his Voice of Israel radio show on Thursday that if the Arab parties, including Hadash, had not united it would have been political suicide.

Ghada Zoabi, founder and CEO of Israeli Arab news portal, said earlier this month that the inability of the parties to unite was frustrating the Arab public, and that turnout in the sector was likely to be lower if unity was not achieved.

A source told the Post on Thursday that there were “last-minute difficulties” between Balad and Hadash, which delayed the finalization of the deal.

The disagreement was over the 10th and 13th spots on the list, according to the source.

Tibi, who according to polls is the most popular politician among the Arab public to lead a united list, gave up his claim to the No. 1 spot in order for his party to gain two seats in a realistic position, said the source.

Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman said the united list openly reveals what was already known and which they sought to cover up: for the Arab parties it does not matter if you are an Islamist, communist, or jihadist – their common goal is one – to destroy Israel as a Jewish state.

It is this goal that brings them together, he said.

Yisrael Beytenu also will present a petition to the Central Election Committee seeking to disqualify the united list from participating in the elections.

The list proves to everyone that there is no difference between Zoabi or Henin since they are running together. Whoever joins with Balad, which supports terrorist organizations and cooperates with Israel’s enemies is not fit to serve in the Knesset, said a party statement.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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