The Joint List faction’s only Jewish lawmaker, Dov Henin, will not be participating in April's general election
, he announced Tuesday, bringing to an end 13 years in the Knesset.
“I am not quitting political life and I do not intend to rest at home,” said Henin, who was first elected to the Knesset in 2006 on the Hadash list. “But I am going to change how I am politically active.”
A former attorney, Henin has been one of the most active lawmakers in the Knesset, chairing the Subcommittee for Public Transportation and, previously, the Joint Committee for Health and the Environment. He also headed lobbies on social-environmental, housing and Holocaust survivor-related issues, and has been involved in the passing of more than 100 pieces of legislation.
“I am proud of the role that I have played, together with my friends, in insisting on protecting the bridge between Jews and Arabs in this country, in a reality in which the abyss between the two peoples is becoming deeper. This is the key to our future,” Henin said.
“But despite all the achievements, I cannot avoid a difficult truth,” he added. “Israel is heading in a dangerous direction. In the absence of progression toward peace, we will deteriorate into wars. The democratic space is under heavy attack. Government incitement against the Arab public is increasing, racism is spreading, and poverty and gaps in society are deepening.”
Rather than seeking to represent the Joint List in the 21st Knesset, Henin said he would be instead dedicating his energy to building grassroots forces for change in Israeli society.
Meretz party leader Tamar Zandberg paid tribute to Henin following his announcement.
“When a member of Knesset leaves, it is customary to say that the Knesset will not be the same without him,” Zandberg wrote on Twitter.
“The case of Dov Henin is one of few where that is really true. A parliamentarian of supreme grace, a broad-minded man, a justice fighter, human being and friend. I met him not only in the Knesset but also in struggles in the street, city and country, and I have no doubt that he will continue to be a courageous and effective partner.”
Speaking last week, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh vowed to increase his party’s power, and that of Arab-Israelis as a whole, in the next Knesset.
“When the Joint List increases its power, we will have the power to topple this racist, extremist, right-wing government,” said Odeh.
“Yes, Netanyahu, Arab citizens will rush to the polls en masse, and we will now increase our power more than ever before. Whoever seeks to create division and a stumbling block between Jews and Arabs, or between Arabs and other Arabs strengthens Netanyahu and the Right. They want us weak and divided, but we will be strong together.”