Zoabi's endorsement could boost Herzog's chances of unseating Netanyahu

In Friday’s 'Jerusalem Post' poll, both the Center-Right and Center-Left blocs had 56 seats and Kulanu had eight.

March 10, 2015 06:19
3 minute read.
A WOMAN walks past a campaign billboard for the Joint (Arab) List in Umm el-Fahm yesterday

A WOMAN walks past a campaign billboard for the Joint (Arab) List in Umm el-Fahm yesterday. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog’s chances of becoming prime minister may have risen considerably Monday when Balad MK Haneen Zoabi said for the first time she could recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Herzog form the next government.

In Friday’s Jerusalem Post poll, both the Center-Right and Center-Left blocs had 56 seats and Kulanu had eight.

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But Likud officials said they were not troubled by the numbers, because they did not believe that the 13 MKs the poll predicted for the Joint (Arab) List would recommend Herzog to Rivlin.

The Likud noted that Zoabi was instrumental in blocking a proposed surplus vote-sharing agreement with Meretz on Friday 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.

But Joint List sources who spoke to Zoabi at length on Sunday and Monday revealed that she had been persuaded to back Herzog to Rivlin and would recommend doing so when their party meets with the president after the March 17 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 the initial plan not to support anyone.

“The Joint List will do everything possible to ensure that Netanyahu will fall,” 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.

Zoabi has said she would not join a government she considers to be an “occupying” force.

When Herzog was asked about Balad rejecting his request for it to sign a deal with Meretz, he said it was an internal decision by the party and he could not interfere with their decision. But he hinted that the decision about the vote-sharing agreement is not an indication of what could happen at the President’s Residence after the race.

“At the end of the day, you know that what parties say before elections and after elections is not the same,” he said.

Channel 2 reported that Rivlin said in closed conversations that if the results of next Tuesday’s vote will be close, he would push for the formation of a unity government with the Likud and the Zionist Union. The report said Rivlin would also ask the new government to change the electoral system and prevent elections from taking place so often.

When the Panels Research poll taken for the Post asked respondents whether they support the formation of a unity government of the Likud and the Zionist Union, 54 percent said no, 28% yes, and 18% had no opinion. A Shiluv poll broadcast Monday on Army Radio had similar results, with 23% in favor and 53% against.

Ye sh Atid leader Yair Lapid told Channel 10 Monday night that he is afraid the Likud and The Zionist Union would form a national unity government with haredi parties and cancel the haredi draft law that his party passed.

He reiterated in the interview that he would do everything possible to prevent Netanyahu from returning as prime minister.

Likud officials continued to rule out the possibility of a unity government, saying that The Zionist Union would not be invited to enter a Likud-led coalition, even after all the right-wing and haredi parties had already joined. The Likud said a government backed by Zoabi would be illegitimate.

“I don’t think even Herzog would want Zoabi’s support,” Likud MK Danny Danon said. “The last thing Israel needs is a government supported by Zoabi.”

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