Balad split from the Joint List on Thursday, and announced it would run separately, despite little chance it will succeed to pass the minimum Knesset threshold of four seats. The dramatic last-minute split, bolsters the chances for Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing and racist-religious bloc to form the next government.
Hadash and Ta’al submits on Thursday night candidates for Knesset ahead of November ballot (Photo: Central Election Committee)
The decision to split into separate Hadash-Ta’al and Balad lists came just an hour before final party lists were due to the Central Elections Committee, and only a day after the three factions had agreed to run again as the Joint List.
As the clock ticked to a midnight deadline for parties to submit their slates, Balad walked back its decision to re-enter the Joint List alliance, citing a dispute over rotating one of its spots on the slate with Ta’al and Hadash. Balad’s single sitting lawmaker and leader MK Sami Abou Shehadeh had pushed to increase the party’s influence within the Joint List, among waning support from the Arab street.
“We wanted as broad a unification as possible,” says Hadash, and Joint List, head MK Ayman Odeh, pointing to recent polls indicate the Joint List will be “the most important political party” after the election because of its wedge position between political blocs. “A day after the election, everyone will come to us and we’ll put everyone on one foot to respect… our population,” says Odeh. The Joint List has in the past recommended a candidate for prime minister, and is expected to do so again in exchange for political demands.
With the Joint List polling at six seats before the break-up, Balad is not expected to pass the 3.25% electoral threshold to enter the Knesset. A weakened Hadash-Ta’al would deprive Prime Minister Yair Lapid of crucial Knesset seats opposed to Netanyahu’s far right-religious bloc returning to power. The split is the second in as many elections to rip apart the Joint List, after Islamist Ra’am broke off in 2021 as it sought to integrate more fully into the Zionist political arena.