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As Israel election deadline looms, Balad agrees to run with Joint List

Member of the Knesset for the United Arab List Masud Ghnaim (L) and Ayman Odeh (R) member of the Knesset and head of the Joint List, a political alliance of four Arab-dominated parties Hadash, Balad, the United Arab List, and Ta'al during a conference organised by Abp Asbl (Association belgo palestinienne) on September 3, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. [Thierry Monasse/Getty Images]
Member of the Knesset for the United Arab List Masud Ghnaim (L) and Ayman Odeh (R) member of the Knesset and head of the Joint List, a political alliance of four Arab-dominated parties Hadash, Balad, the United Arab List, and Ta'al during a conference organised by Abp Asbl (Association belgo palestinienne) on September 3, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. [Thierry Monasse/Getty Images]

Ahead of this week’s deadline to declare electoral slates, Arab-Israeli party Balad has agreed to join the other three Palestinian factions to once again run as the Joint List in Israel’s 17 September election.

Balad’s central committee yesterday voted in favour of re-entering the Joint List, an alliance of four Arab-Israeli parties formed in the run up to the 2015 election to ensure the factions passed the minimum 3.25 per cent voting threshold needed to sit in the Knesset.

The alliance broke down ahead of Israel’s April election, with the parties opting to run on two slates: Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad. However, following disastrous voter turnout among Palestinian citizens of Israel and poor results – winning only ten seats between the two lists, three seats less than the Joint List had held since 2015 – the four parties have been working to resurrect the alliance ready for September’s do-over election.

These attempts have caused weeks of political infighting among the parties, with disagreements centring on which faction would hold the 11th and 14th position on the electoral slate. The first ten slots were reserved for those Knesset Members (MKs) who were elected in April.

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The three other factions – Hadash, Ta’al and Ra’am – announced they would run together earlier on Sunday, effectively forcing Balad to declare its intention lest it risk falling below the electoral threshold if it ran alone. The motion to join the other three parties was passed with a 26-2 majority, after one party member abstained and another voted against the merger.

It is not yet clear who will head the newly-confirmed Joint List, though veteran MK Ayman Odeh is expected to hold on to the top slot. The deadline to declare the slates is set for Thursday.

Whether the move will be enough to inspire Palestinian citizens of Israel to head to the polls is, however, debatable. After April’s dire performance many Palestinian citizens have expressed anger and frustration at the Joint List, accusing its MKs of putting personal interests ahead of the needs of the community. The infighting which has characterised the Joint List’s resurrection will have done little to dispel this perception and leaves the alliance with little over six weeks to campaign before 17 September.

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IsraelIsraeli ElectionsMiddle EastNews
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