April 20, 2024
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Joint List Split Good News for Netanyahu, Israel’s Right

The Joint List, an alliance of three Arab parties—Hadash, Ta’al and Balad—split in dramatic fashion mere hours before the deadline for parties to submit their final Knesset lists ahead of the upcoming Nov. 1 election. While there is debate about the reasons behind the split, analysts say the development likely will benefit opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in his bid to return to the prime minister’s chair.

Hadash-Ta’al will continue to run together, but Balad will run separately. The development puts Balad’s future in jeopardy, with a Channel 11 poll published following the split showing the smaller Arab party failing to garner enough votes to enter the Knesset.

“Presumably it improves the chances of a right-wing government,” Hillel Frisch, an Arab affairs analyst at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS), told JNS. “So far the polls have shown that the Joint List split raises the right-wing coalition from 57 seats to 60 seats. That is, however, still short of the 61-seat majority they need.”

Michael Milstein, head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, told JNS that the breakup of the Joint List is a major development.

“Balad will get [votes equivalent to] maybe two seats, which means that they cannot get into the Knesset, because the limit is four seats. And it means that actually two seats are going to move to the right. So Balad is having a major impact on the whole political arena and the results of the election,” he said.

While Frisch and Milstein agreed on the benefits to the national camp from the Joint List’s dissolution, they disagreed about the motives behind it. Both agreed that it was partly based on a practical argument over the No. 6 slot on the party list. The Balad member who occupied that spot, Mtanes Shahadeh, was moved to No. 7, Milstein said.

However, another possibility entertained by Israeli media—and which Frisch subscribes to—is that the main issue was ideological, with the Hadash and Ta’al parties warming to the idea of openly joining an Israeli government, something Balad resisted. While all three parties that made up the Joint List are “anti-state,” or anti-Zionist, Balad is considered the most extreme.

Hadash and Ta’al calculated it would be easier to make a deal with a center-left coalition without Balad, which would oppose such a move.

“Even if Balad leaders toed the line, their constituency is really radical and wouldn’t have let them,” Frisch said.

However, Milstein rejects the theory, saying the “whole internal conflict” revolves around the order of candidates on the Knesset list.

“Many people here in Israel are trying to portray this event as an ideological one, [saying] that Ayman Odeh, the head of Hadash, and Ahmed Tibi, the head of Ta’al, are trying to find all kinds of ways to integrate into the political system, to promote dialogue with the Zionist parties like Yesh Atid and Gantz’s [Blue and White] party, but actually the reasons are very shallow, very narrow,” he said.

By David Isaac/JNS.org

 

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