Netanyahu looking for Arab candidate for Likud list

"We are strongly considering an Arab candidate."

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu, your long incumbency has created in your mind a sense of indispensability. (photo credit: FLASH90)
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu, your long incumbency has created in your mind a sense of indispensability.
(photo credit: FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seriously seeking an Israeli-Arab candidate to appoint to the Likud list, a senior campaign source said on Thursday.
Netanyahu responded positively to a question on the matter during his visit to a medical center in the Arab town of Tira, and the campaign source confirmed that Likud is looking for someone.
“We are strongly considering an Arab candidate,” the source said.
The move comes in light of strong Israeli Arab support for the Abraham Accords – Israel’s normalization and peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco – contrasting with the Joint List, the bloc of Arab parties in the Knesset, voting against those agreements.
In the months since the Abraham Accords were announced, support for the Joint List in the polls dropped from 15 seats to 11. Likud’s internal polling reflects that decrease in support, as well, and the party hopes to capitalize on it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a Clalit healthcare center in the Arab town Tira. (Courtesy: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
The source denied that Joint List MK Mansour Abbas, who has made positive statements about Netanyahu and expressed a willingness to cooperate with him (something unique from a Joint List MK), would be that candidate, saying that it would be someone whose political views aligned with Likud’s.
The Likud campaign would not confirm names of people Netanyahu is considering.
One possibility may be Yoseph Haddad, the CEO Together – Vouch for Each Other, an NGO that seeks to connect Israeli Arabs to broader Israeli society. Haddad, 33, is also an IDF veteran who served in the Golani brigade and was wounded during the Second Lebanon War. He often advocates for Israel abroad.
Haddad recently wrote an article for Yediot Aharonot lamenting that the Joint List’s vote against the agreements with the UAE and Bahrain do not reflect Israeli-Arab public opinion.
Asked whether he was approached by the Likud campaign, Haddad declined to comment. The Likud campaign source would not confirm or deny Haddad is the candidate.
In 2019, Dema Taya, an Israeli Arab Muslim woman from Kalansuwa, vied for the non-Jewish slot in the Likud primary. Netanyahu once praised Taya on his Facebook page as “brave and powerful” and “a voice of truth, full of hope.”
Taya would check off more boxes for Likud, because another party source said Netanyahu is looking for young, female candidates to appoint after Sharren Haskel and Michal Shir left Likud for the New Hope Party.
The Likud Constitution Committee voted on Wednesday to cancel the party primary ahead of the election in March, and allow Netanyahu to appoint candidates to slots 5 or 10, plus 26, 28, 36, 39 and 40 on the list.
The last time Likud held a primary for its list was in February 2019, the first of the three consecutive elections in 2019-2020. Its last leadership primary was in December 2019.