The Joint List is set to be the largest non-ruling bloc in parliament – and may possibly even lead the opposition – if a national unity government emerges from Tuesday’s election. The Joint List has presented its stronger showing on Tuesday’s rerun as a victory over what it described as an “unprecedented campaign of incitement against the Arab public” by PM Benjamin Netanyahu and right-wing parties.
A surge in turnout gave the Joint List 13 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, making it the third-largest grouping behind Netanyahu’s far-right Likud party, with 31 seats, and Benny Gantz’s centrist and neoliberal Kahol-Lavan (Blue & White), with 33 MKs. That would make the Joint List the largest opposition grouping in parliament if a unity government takes shape, a realistic possibility even though Gantz has rebuffed Netanyahu’s initial invitation.
However, if Joint List head MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), 44, becomes opposition leader, he would receive monthly briefings from the Mossad intelligence agency and meet visiting heads of state, among other benefits. “It is an interesting position, never before held by someone from the Arab population. It has a lot of influence,” Odeh told reporters outside his home in Haifa, a mixed Arab and Jewish city in northern Israel.
Nevertheless, although the Joint List will be the single largest group, other opposition parties combined would have enough seats to block his appointment through an absolute majority vote, analysts say. “There’s no way the other parties will agree to have Ayman Odeh as head of the opposition, and grant our community recognition and legitimacy,” said Aida Touma-Sliman, a Communist lawmaker from Odeh’s Hadash front.
Joint List lawmakers have repeatedly called for the abolition of the racist “Nation-State Law” enacted in July 2018, an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and the dismantling of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank.