Uncertain Fate for Renewed Joint List towards September Elections

A press conference that had been scheduled for Monday evening, July 15, to announce the joint run of Hadash and three Arab parties for the Knesset in the September 17 elections, was canceled at the last minute because two of the four parties said they would not be attending.

MK Ayman Odeh addresses the Hadash Council held last Saturday, July 13, in Shfaram.

MK Ayman Odeh addresses the Hadash Council held last Saturday, July 13, in Shfaram. (Photo: Zo Haderech)

Hadash and United Arab List (UAL) had scheduled the press conference with the blessing of a “reconciliation committee” set up to help the four parties resolve their differences. The goal of scheduling the press conference had been to pressure the other two parties, Balad and Ta’al, to soften their positions in on-again-off-again negotiations being conducted for weeks to allocate the positions of the various parties’ candidates in a joint slate, the crux of their disagreement. However, after Balad and Ta’al said they would not be showing up for the event, the reconciliation committee announced that the press conference would be postponed until Thursday, July 18, in the hope that the dispute would be resolved by then.

Hadash, UAL and the reconciliation committee decided to call the press conference during a meeting on Sunday, July 14. Two days earlier, the two parties had published a joint press statement in Al Ittihad, the Arabic-language daily newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party of Israel (CPI) – the main component of Hadash (The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), voicing their commitment to reestablishing the Joint List, which was formed before the 2015 general elections for the 20th Knesset, and urging Balad and Ta’al to accept the allocation of places on the ticket proposed by the reconciliation committee. However, Balad and Ta’al vehemently objected to the committee’s proposal.

The four parties had easily reached an agreement on how the first 10 places on the joint ticket should be allocated, based on the results of the April’s election for the 21st Knesset, which was dispersed by legislation after Netanyahu failed to form the coalition he sought. According to April’s electoral results, Hadash was to get four of the top 10 slots, while the other three parties were each to get two spots. The reconciliation committee proposed that the UAL get the 11th slot, Hadash the 12th, Balad the 13th and Ta’al the 14th. However, both Balad and Ta’al insisted that their candidates be positioned higher up on the list, and Balad even announced that it was severing contacts with the committee over the dispute.

Meanwhile, a growing faction within Balad advocates boycotting the election altogether and quitting the Knesset, at least temporarily. Former MK Basel Ghattas from Balad recently published an article proposing a temporary absence from of the party from the parliament so that it can focus on bolstering its support within the Arab community, shoring up the party’s institutions and strengthening what he termed the “Palestinian national movement” within Israel.

As indicated, the four parties, which ran on a combined ticket known as the Joint List in 2015, split into two slates before this year’s April 9 elections, and subsequently lost nearly a quarter of their combined parliamentary representation in the 21st Knesset, achieving a combined total of 10 MKs (six for Hadash-Ta’al and four for Ra’am Balad) compared to the 13 won by the Joint List four years earlier. Heeding this decline in their combined strength, the four parties agreed in principle to reform a joint ticket for this coming September’s election. However, in the countdown towards the submission of the lists for the upcoming elections, August 1, it is currently far from certain that a Joint List including all four parties will in fact be formed.

On Saturday, July 13, Hadash’s council met in the northern city of Shfaram (Shefa-‘Amr) to confirm the reelection of MK Ayman Odeh as the chairman of the Hadash parliamentary faction. MK Aida Touma-Sliman was reelected to the second spot, and in the third and fourth places for the Hadash list of candidates MK Ofer Cassif and MK Youssef Jabareen were reelected. In addition, the council reelected Jaber Asakli, Yousef Atawne, Noa Levy and Fidaa Tabouni to the fifth through eighth spots respectively.