MK Hanin Zoabi, whose National Democratic Assembly (Balad) party is one of the three partner factions making up the Joint Arab List, has been the most frequent candidate for removal both from the elections list and, as MK, from the plenum, as well as defendant in court, all owing to her vicious attacks on Israeli values and on Israeli public officials—including, most recently, cursing out and spitting on Arab police. Now, all who trust in the wisdom of the voters are entitled to a big high-five, as Zoabi has been pushed in the primaries for her faction’s list of Knesset candidates down to spot number 9, well outside the realistic expectations for the 21st Knesset, Makor Rishon reported Friday.
The Joint Arab List, which has one Jewish MK, is a new political creature, a coalition made up of four different parties whose only common denominator is the fact that they are Arab and appeal to the Arab Israeli voter. Hadash, the United Arab List, Balad, and Ta’al, which make up the third largest faction in the 20th Knesset, were, essentially, the brain child of then Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who pushed for a higher vote threshold, requiring that a list gain close to four seats before it can claim any of its seats. Realizing that the new rule could wipe out the bulk of the Arab representation in the Knesset, the four parties, with communists, business leaders, ultra-nationalists and religious zealots, found a way to unite in order to stay alive. Ironically, Liberman’s own party, Yisrael Beiteinu, barely made it past the same threshold.
With the four factions sharing the 13 seats they were granted by the voter, it is unlikely for any one of them to get more than three or four MKs, so that Zoabi’s failure to get enough votes for the third or fourth spot in her faction means a resounding demotion by her party members.
But Zoabi did relatively well compared with her fellow Balad MK Basel Ghattas, who shared with her a much slammed ceremony honoring the families of Jerusalem terrorists who had died while murdering Jews. Ghattas was dropped to the 23rd spot, which is political death in the reality of Arab politics.
Another demoted Balad leader, also member of the honor guard to the killers, is Jamal Zahalka, who landed the fifth spot, which would only get him a seat should the Joint Arab List pick up between 18 and 20 mandates, a feat that would necessarily require direct involvement from Mohammed himself, if not an even higher authority.
Anonymous members of the Joint List told Makor Rishon they were pleased with the choices of Balad voters, who replaced their fanatical leaders with seemingly more pragmatic ones, including a woman, Nibin Abu Rahmoun, at the top of the list. The latest choices could revitalize the Balad faction as well as the entire Knesset list, possibly attracting one or two additional seats.
With MK Ghattas’ resounding defeat Balad voters have severed their ties to his uncle, former MK Azmi Bishara, who back in 2007 resigned from the Knesset through the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, following police investigation into his treasonous activities, aiding the enemy during wartime, passing information on to the enemy and contacts with a foreign agent, as well as laundering money received from foreign sources. With that shameful legacy out of the way, the new faces in Balad could devote themselves to improving the quality of life for Israeli Arabs.David Israel