Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90
Interior Committee Chairman MK Yoav Kisch (Likud)

A bill proposed by Knesset Interior Committee Chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud), designed to split the Joint Arab List by making it impossible to consolidate four parties into a Knesset list, was halted at the last-minute. Now it turns out, according to a report by Channel 2 News, that the Haredi parties were behind the blocking of the Likud bill, having reached an understandings on a number of common issues and interests with their Arab colleagues.

The Joint Arab List, the third largest faction in the 20th Knesset, is a political alliance of four mostly Arab parties: Hadash, the United Arab List, Balad, and Ta’al, includes communists, socialists, feminists, Islamists, and “Palestinian” nationalists whose separate political agendas couldn’t possibly co-exist within the same political framework, other than as a strictly election-driven block.

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Indeed, the Joint Arab List was forged ahead of the 2015 elections in response to the threat of from raising the vote threshold to 3.75%, meaning that a party had to gain close to four Knesset seats before it could take its first seat. The list won 10.61% of the votes – 446,583 – awarding it 13 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

The Kisch bill, which was introduced on Monday, determines that a list composed of three parties would receive funding for only two, and a list with four parties be funded for three instead.

“This is an amendment that is meant to cause the parties to maintain their positions and to prevent them from turning into a grocery list whose common denominator is their most extreme member,” MK Kisch said, referring to Balad, a vehemently anti-Zionist member party whose members include Jamal Zahalka and Haneen Zoabi.

“There is no reason to allow more than two parties to run on a single list,” he said, adding that the amendment would prevent a joint run of more than two parties by creating an economic incentive against it.”

Apparently, according to a behind-the-scenes agreement, in return for the Haredim blocking the Kisch bill, the Joint Arab List will support the latest Haredi-inspired version of IDF draft law.

This cooperation has been going on for a while, according to the Channel 2 report, and included Haredi support against the Muezzin Law (prohibiting using Mosques’ PA systems between 11 PM and 7 AM), which is very important to the Joint Arab List. A similar collaboration is at work regarding the Nationality Law, enhancing the Jewish character of the state.

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