On Friday, January 23, members of the united Hadash and Arab list launched their election campaign with a press conference, one day after reaching an historic agreement to run together in the general elections on March 17.
“Our list will be the third largest in the Knesset, stronger than that of Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu,” said MK Ahmad Tibi. “We call upon not only the Arab public, but also Jews who believe in our common path, to vote for us. Our list is not in danger, but Lieberman’s list will be in danger.” Lieberman’s racist and extreme-right Israel Beitenu (“Israel is Our Home”) party, has been hit recently by corruption probes and high-profile resignations, and latest polls predict its winning around 6 parliamentary seats, half the number of its current 12.
Ayman Odeh (Hadash), who heads the new united list as its number one candidate, said: “The right-wing is called the ‘national camp,’ Herzog and Livni formed the ‘Zionist camp,’ and we have established the democratic camp. The Arabs constitute a large percentage of the country’s population, and we will put our full weight into the next elections to ensure that the right-wing will not return to power. This will be our contribution.” Attorney Odeh continued: “We oppose the approach of Arabs against Jews or Jews against Arabs. Our list, which is comprised of both Arabs and Jews, is not against the Israeli society, but fights for the Israeli society.” Odeh told Channel 2 News later on Friday that “this list will throw Lieberman, Bennett, and Netanyahu to the garbage bin of history, and we will work to remove the extreme right from the Knesset.” Ramiz Jeraisy of Hadash, former mayor of Nazareth and one of the key mediators between the parties forming the united list, said at Friday’s conference: “This list represents the entire social fabric in Israel; this truly is a democratic list, the only democratic list running for the Israeli Knesset.”
Opinion polls suggest the united Hadash-Arab list could secure between 12 and 17 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. The joint slate, finalized on Thursday, was in large part a bid for electoral survival compelled by the right-wing government’s passing last year of legislation which raised the threshold for entering the Knesset to 4 seats (3.25%). This anti-democratic law left at least two of the four parties forming the list facing the real possibility of being eliminated from representing their voters in Israel’s parliament.