Senior officials of the Joint Arab List are saying that although Blue&White has joined the petition to disqualify Arab MK Heba Yazbak from running, the Arab list does not intend to announce that they wuld not recommend Benny Gantz to the president after the election, Reshet Bet radio reported Tuesday morning.
Instead, the Joint Arab List decided to stick to issuing hints hostile to the Blue&White move, and deliberately blur their messages – but stay away from saying they would not recommend Gantz.
According to those senior officials, in the past, too, Blue&White joined petitions to disqualify MK Yazbak’s party, Balad, the most viciously anti-Israeli faction in the Arab list, and yet the list continued to support Gantz’s nomination in meetings with President Reuven Rivlin. Therefore, this time, too, the joint list does not rule out the possibility of recommending Gantz to the president, never mind the call to disqualify Yazbak.
Heba Yazbak is an MK running as part of the Balad party in the Joint Arab List slate. She defines herself as a social activist and a feminist. In her social media posts, Yazbak said Samir Kuntar, the killer of two Israeli civilians, was a Shahid (martyr), congratulated Ravi Sultani on his release from prison where he had been sent for spying, and expressed her longing for the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
The Israeli supreme court has ruled that Yazbak’s statements on Facebook could “be interpreted as expressing her identification with and support for various parties taking part in an armed struggle against the State of Israel, as well as terrorist organizations.”
Talk about judicial restraint – they still let her run.
She is running again, in 8th place, on the Joint Arab List, and a number of Jewish parties, including Blue&White, have petitioned the central election commission for her disqualification because of her statements on behalf of terrorists.
Not to worry, she won’t be disqualified. The court usually disqualifies only rightwing Jews.
The Joint Arab List does not rule out cooperation with Blue&White in its attempt to form a government on the day after the election, with outside support, but then, who knows, maybe inside support as well. It all depends on how big their victory will be come March 2.
Some in Israel’s media believe that the Joint Arab List is set to reap a significant victory in the upcoming elections. Last November, a few weeks before the Knesset set a third election date in less than a year, Arab list co-chairman Ayman Odeh said in a video he posted on Facebook: “I want to ask you: how many seats will we get? I tell you we can get 15.”
If the joint list headed by him does get 15 seats in this election, it will be a new record for Arab parties since the establishment of the Jewish State.
The main reason that the Arab list can expect a significant win is the union on the Jewish left. The two leftwing parties, Labor and Meretz, which no one is expecting to score more than 10 seats together, placed their most credible Arab candidate, Issawi Frej, in the 11th slot.
This humiliation of a permanent member of the Meretz Knesset list will probably cause many Arab voters to go to the joint list. Mind you, in the April election, it was 42,000 Arab votes that saved Meretz from falling below the vote threshold, because two Arab candidates were placed in the slate’s top five.
According to official data from the election commission, in Issawi Frej’s home town of Kafr Qasem, in April, Meretz received 38% of the vote, while the two Arab lists that ran separately at the time took 57%. In the September election, the Democratic Camp (Meretz and Ehud Barak) received 26% of the vote, while the joint list took 67%. Presumably, the bulk of these votes will now go to Chairman Odeh, and Chairman Odeh will fulfill his dream and win 14 or even 15 seats in the next Knesset.
In such a situation, Benny Gantz would have no choice but to lean on the Joint Arab List in the Knesset, if he wants to form and maintain a majority government. MK Ahmad Tibi, the list’s other co-chairman, has already threatened Blue&White in connection with his demand to repeal the 2017 Kaminitz Law, aimed at reducing illegal construction in Arab communities, that if they—Blue&White—continue to support laws such as the Kaminitz Law, Benny Gantz would be serving as the opposition leader in the next Knesset.