Israeli Arab lawmakers from the Joint Arab List (from L to R) Osama Saadi, Ahmed Tibi, Ayman Odeh, Masud Ganaim and Haneen Zoabi stand in front of the Dome of the Rock during a visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City July 28, 2015. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset approved a request on Wednesday by MK Ahmad Tibi's Ta'al (Arab Movement for Change) party to withdraw from the Joint Arab list.
Tibi announced on Tuesday that he would leave the Joint List ahead of the April 9 election, and that his party will run independently.
He told The Jerusalem Post
that he would not be willing to join a coalition and become the first Arab minister from an Arab party, even if the next government was formed by a Center-Left party and not by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.
“I request the Knesset House Committee’s approval to withdraw Ta’al from the Joint List,” Tibi wrote in a statement ahead of a meeting of the committee on Wednesday.
Tibi’s request was filed days after controversial Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi, Balad MK Jamal Zahalka and United Arab List MK Masud Gnaim confirmed that they will not run in the upcoming elections. Similarly, the Joint List faction’s only Jewish lawmaker, Dov Henin, announced he will not be running either. Henin served 13 years in the Knesset as a member of the Hadash Party.
Tibi’s decision faced criticism from his fellow Joint List MKs and from the Right. Joint List leader Ayman Odeh heard about Tibi’s decision from the press.
“Netanyahu is the one who would like to see the Joint List break apart most, and the extreme Right would love to divide and rule the Arabs,” Odeh responded on his Twitter account. “I am proud to be a part of a political party that puts their ideologies before personal interests.”
The Joint List was formed following the raising of the electoral threshold to 3.25% in March 2014. Yet even before the formation of the Joint List, Tibi and his party, Ta’al, never participated in the Israeli elections independently, but had collaborated with Hadash.Gil Hoffman and Alon Einhorn contributed to this report.