Israel Election: Balad Chairman Says Joint List Project Must Be Reconsidered

The four-way alliance of Arab-majority parties already lost one party in the last Israeli election. Balad chairman Sami Abu Shehadeh suggests that his party could follow suit

Deiaa Haj Yahia
Deiaa Haj Yahia
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Balad chairman Sami Abu Shehadeh at a Joint List press conference in Tel Aviv, in 2021.
Balad chairman Sami Abu Shehadeh at a Joint List press conference in Tel Aviv, in 2021.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Deiaa Haj Yahia
Deiaa Haj Yahia

Balad chairman Sami Abu Shehadeh said on Saturday that the "Joint List project must be reexamined," two days after saying that the faction is mulling a withdrawal from the joint ticket of majority-Arab parties.

"A lot of mistakes were made which led to the Joint List's falling back among the Arab public," Abu Shehadeh said.

Balad is one of the three remaining factions on the party slate, after the Islamist United Arab List party withdrew from it last year.

According to Abu Shehadeh, Balad are not ruling out any option, but clarified that they will not join any governing coalition.

"It would be unacceptable for us to support a government, whether from the inside or the outside, or to cooperate politically with any government, because we see that there is no change in policy and no partner at the moment who will end the discrimination, injustice and racism," He said.

Abu Shehadeh criticized the Joint List's decision to prioritize raising funds for the Arab community rather than "fighting the project of settler colonialism, which strengthens Israeli supremacy over Palestinians." He stated that the Arab community in Israel is facing a new crisis, and called for broader political organizing.

He added that the political system is too focused on whether opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is fit to form a government, rather than addressing wider issues with the Arab community. "The issue was with Netanyahu's policies, which direct all of the political sides in Israel, those on the left and those on the right," he said. "Netanyahu's absence in the government did not bring an end to the culture of settlements, racism and discrimination."

Representatives from the three component parties of the Joint List – Hadash, Balad and Ta’al – were supposed to meet in Nazareth on Wednesday, but Balad’s representatives did not turn up, and the meeting was held without them.

Balad officials told Haaretz on Thursday that the party will run independently if it manages to put together a slate that includes mayors of Arab communities, prominent Arab civil-society activists, a candidate from the Negev and a Jewish candidate.

Some sources in the party said they believed that this could attract more young voters and encourage many who might otherwise stay home to head to the polls. But other sources in Balad said that running independently would be a last resort, given the risk that the party would fail to cross the electoral threshold – currently set at 3.25 percent of all votes – and lose all representation in the legislature.

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