Balad MK Haneen Zoabi at the Knesset..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A deal that could have prevented tens of thousands of left-wing votes from being wasted and as many as two mandates from being thrown away was blocked Friday by the Balad party in a major blow to Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog.
Herzog’s Labor Party signed a vote-sharing agreement at the start of the campaign with Meretz to give spare votes beyond the mandates they won to whichever party was closer to an additional seat in the Knesset. Without such a deal, the spare votes are thrown away.
But when Hatnua joined with Labor to form the Zionist Union and Kulanu signed a vote-sharing agreement with Yisrael Beytenu, there was no party that would sign with Yesh Atid. In the past, two Arab parties would sign a deal with each other, but now they have decided to run together on the Joint (Arab) List.
Last week, Herzog and Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On tried to broker a deal by which the Zionist Union would sign a vote-sharing agreement with Yesh Atid, and Meretz with the Joint List.
Herzog called all the heads of the Arab parties that make up the Joint List, but Balad leader Jamal Zehalka refused to pick up the phone.
Joint List head Ayman Odeh was in favor of signing the deal with Meretz, but Balad ruled it out because it did not want to cooperate with a Zionist party in any way. Zehalka even threatened to remove Balad from the Joint List, a threat that at this stage is not permitted by law.
Friday was the final day to submit vote-sharing agreements to the Central Elections Committee.
After the attempt to bring in the Joint List failed, the deal between the Zionist Union and Meretz was submitted.
“The Joint List’s refusal shows that they failed the ultimate test of whether they can cooperate,” Gal-On said Saturday on a tour of Arab towns in the North. “I hope that this decision to isolate themselves rather than cooperate will not condemn us to another four years of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu in power.”
Balad MK Haneen Zoabi responded by pointing out that the Zionist Union supported banning her from running for Knesset “There is no Left in the Knesset, only a Center that is patronizing and racist,” she told Channel 2’s Meet the Press program.
Additional vote-sharing agreements were submitted by Likud with Bayit Yehudi and Shas with United Torah Judaism.
Ahead of the last election, Labor signed with Yesh Atid, and Meretz with Hatnua.