With only a month and a half to go until the September 17 general elections for Israel’s Knesset, all 32 parties that will be running submitted their list of candidates last Thursday, August 1, to the Central Elections Committee. The representatives of the Joint List, headed by Chairman MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), include members of Hadash and three Arab parties: Balad, Ta’al and Ra’am. In last April’s election, these parties ran as two separate lists, Hadash-Ta’al and Balad-Ra’am.
Odeh said, “We’ve overcome the divide-and-conquer policy and have come together. Four months ago we made a mistake, but we’ve learned our lesson… We are running together to represent the complete unity of the Arab population. We’ll fight for our people and for all weaker sectors of the Israeli society.”
The Joint List Chairman said, “There’s no doubt we want to unseat Netanyahu. However, we’re not in anyone’s pocket. Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz will have to come to talk with us.” Speaking to The Times of Israel, Odeh said, “I don’t think that Gantz is ready. He would prefer to form a national unity government with the Likud instead of what we want. However, if he approaches us and he is heading in the direction of peace and equality, we will listen. I do not see this happening because of a lot of bad water under the bridge. We are not in his pocket. He will have to come to us.” But, Odeh added, “If we see that there is some common direction, we will seriously consider joining him.”
Meanwhile, a Channel 13 poll published Thursday evening shows Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party winning a projected 29 seats in the September 17 election, six more than it received in the previous poll by the same channel last week. According to polls published in Thursday and Friday, the Joint List is also poised to win 11 to 13 seats.
“We are coming here stronger than before because we are united,” Odeh said. “We have learned the lessons of the last four months. We only have to look at the facts — when we ran together [in 2015], we received 13 seats, when we ran separately; we had the lowest turnout ever. So what should we learn from that? That we need to unite. Now that we have united, the turnout will rise again.” Odeh continued “We want to increase the turnout in Arab communities by at least 10%, but we need to work hard to raise it to at least 65% so that Benjamin Netanyahu and his cronies are sent home. The more votes we get, the more influence we’ll have.”