Tibi tells 'Post' he won't join Center-Left government

It remains to be seen if Ta'al, running as an individual party, can pass the electoral threshold.

January 8, 2019 18:12
2 minute read.
MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) at the Knesset August 8, 2018.

MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) at the Knesset during a discussion on the Nation-State Law August 8, 2018.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Arab-Muslim MK Ahmad Tibi announced that he is withdrawing his Ta’al (Arab Movement for Change) party from the Joint List ahead of the April 9 election, and his party will run independently.

He told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday 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 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 at the Knesset 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, 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 collaborated with Hadash.

It is unclear if Ta’al, running as an individual party, can pass the electoral threshold. The secretary-general of the Balad party, Matans Shehade, mocked Tibi, saying that there was a reason his party never ran independently before.

Ta’al responded by saying that the party would run independently because the other parties in the Joint List refused Tibi’s demands to conduct a poll in the Arab sector and determine who would lead the list based on the poll.

Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov expressed hope Tibi would not get elected to the next Knesset.

“I congratulate MK Ahmad Tibi on his decision to withdraw his party from the Joint List and wish him best of luck,” Ilatov said in a statement. “I hope Tibi and his party will run for the parliament in Ramallah rather than the Israeli Knesset. That is where they belong.”

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