The Hadash (Communists) and Ta’al (Professionals) parties on Thursday night submitted their united list to the election commission – without Balad (rabid anti-Zionists), which submitted a separate list (Arab Joint List No More).
There were several reasons why the three parties decided not to run together, most of them having to do with dividing the measly loot of between five and six mandates among them. But there was a different reason altogether, which was stated openly by the two leaders of the still-united faction, Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi: they wanted to keep the option of recommending the next prime minister to the president, while Balad leader Sami Abou Shehada demanded the faction abstain from recommending anyone.
Last night we reported that, for the moment, it seems likely that Balad won’t pass the 3.25% vote threshold, which could mean that the remaining Joint List would shrink from six to four mandates. But as Reshet Bet radio speculated Friday morning, citing Likud officials, the plot may be thicker.
The next phase in registering the various slates involves appeals to the Central Elections Committee regarding individuals or parties who should be disqualified from running. There are three reasons why an individual may be banned from running: Denial of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state; incitement to racism; and supporting an armed attack by an enemy state or a terrorist organization on the State of Israel.
The Balad party is disqualified regularly, every single election, by the commission, which is comprised of a supreme court judge and representatives of all the Knesset factions. Balad is disqualified because it advocates all three items, but they always appeal to the High Court of Justice and always get a reprieve.
What if this time their ban is not lifted by the court? The result could be that their former partners, Hadash and Ta’al, collect their six seats. Now, running without the crazy folks from Balad (which gave us the infamous Haneen Zoabi), would legitimize the new Joint Arab List in the eyes of at least half the Israeli voters.
And, based on all the recent polls, they represent the missing six seats Lapid would need to get to the desired 61, and build the first coalition in Israel’s history with two Arab parties, dedicated to improving the conditions of Israeli Arabs, and you know, a Palestinian State.
Incidentally, this scenario works even if the court once again lifts the ban on Balad, which still won’t make it past the threshold. In the end, the telling point was the fight among the three Arab parties over whether or not they should recommend a Zionist politician to the president to be entrusted with forging the next government.
The Jewish Press is a right-wing publication with little if any empathy for Arab parties which serve as the political arm of anti-Zionist countries and militias. But there are many Israelis out there, mostly secular and center-left, who see the inclusion of the Ra’am party in the Lapid-Bennett government as nothing short of a miracle, a vision of peace come true, kumbaya at the mosque. Come November 1, should Lapid be looking at a potential 55 or so mandates for his center-left bloc, those cleansed Joint Arab List mandates could go a long way to put him back in office.