Balad MK Haneen Zoabi at the Knesset..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Balad MK Haneen Zoabi told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that she strongly rejects a report in the paper the previous day that quoted Joint (Arab) List sources as saying she would recommend Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog to be prime minister.
Zoabi absolutely denied the report published on Tuesday, adding that “there is no chance the Joint List would join any government.”
“Why are sources quoted when they could have just asked me?” she asked.
The Likud noted that Zoabi was instrumental on Friday in blocking a surplus vote-sharing agreement with Meretz that could have prevented tens of thousands of left-wing votes from being wasted. Joint List head Ayman Odeh of Hadash wanted a deal with Meretz, but Balad blocked it because it did not want to cooperate with a Zionist party in any way.
The Joint List sources who spoke to Zoabi at length on Sunday and Monday revealed in the Post report on Tuesday that she had been persuaded to back Herzog to Rivlin and would recommend doing so when the Joint List meets with the president after the election. The sources said that after standing tough against the vote-sharing agreement, Balad would feel more comfortable giving in on the Herzog issue and backing him instead of following the initial plan not to support for prime minister.
“The Joint List will do everything possible to ensure that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu falls,” a Joint List source said. “At the right time the wise decision will be made.”
The sources stressed that recommending Herzog to Rivlin is different from joining the coalition, which is not a possibility.
Sami Ali, a senior Balad official handling the media campaign, confirmed to the Post on Wednesday that the Joint List rejects both recommending Herzog and joining a coalition government led by him.
Political observers question whether the Joint List would in any case recommend to the president to appoint Herzog instead of Netanyahu.
Contemplating such a move would be bound to cause intra-List tension, just as the decision on whether to sign a vote-sharing agreement with Meretz did.
Meanwhile, a knowledgeable political source told the Post that if the Joint List finds itself leading the opposition after the formation of a unity government, it would accept the position.
If such a scenario played out, “The Joint List would hold a vote among its MKs to choose the best candidate” who would head the opposition, said the source.
“Not all MKs would want to officially represent the opposition, because of the symbolism involved.”
It is not clear if Odeh would be elected opposition leader in such a scenario, since other List lawmakers may covet the position, the source added.
Asked what the Joint List would do if Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid also are in the opposition, the source predicted that in such a case, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid would lead it.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.