The Joint List has launched its election campaign ahead of Israel's general election next month, vowing to tackle the "double exclusion" faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel.
The Joint List – an alliance of Israel's four Palestinian-dominated parties Hadash (Al-Jabha), Ta'al, Balad and Ra'am – last month agreed to run on a joint slate in September's election. This comes in a bid to improve on its April performance, during which the four parties ran in two groups and won a total of ten seats between them.
The renewed Joint List held its first meeting in Jaffa yesterday evening, with veteran Knesset Member (MK) Yousef Jabareen and prominent Jaffa activist Sami Abu Shehadeh addressing the audience. Jabareen and Abu Shehadeh hold the tenth and thirteenth slots respectively on the Joint List's slate.
The pair addressed the audience's concerns, which included incitement against Palestinian leaders and Palestinian citizens of Israel more broadly. Though discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel is commonplace, such rhetoric often reaches fever pitch during election season.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regularly uses Palestinian MKs as the focus of his racially-charged election campaigns, while last month a Jewish-Israeli man was charged with making death threats against Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi.
Jabareen stressed that holding the first Joint List meeting in Jaffa is "very symbolic" in light of the fact that "Jaffa faces local and national exclusion and various discriminatory policies in all areas of life".
The Hadash MK told MEMO: "Arab-Palestinian residents in Jaffa face double exclusion: by the municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, which ignores their needs and developments rights, and by the central [Israeli] government, which discriminates against them as part of the Palestinian population."
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"Our steadfastness in Jaffa is really heroic in the shadow of local and central exclusion for tens of years," Jabareen emphasised.
The Jaffa launch also signalled the start of six weeks' intense campaigning in a bid to capitalise on the opportunity presented by Israel's do-over election, the second this year after Netanyahu failed to form a ruling coalition.
"The feeling is that we got another chance to better organize and unite our community toward increasing our political representation," Jabareen explained, adding that "the stronger we are, the better we serve the issues we represent: countering racist government policies, supporting our struggle in the field and in our outreach to the international community".
The latest polls predict the Joint List could win 11 seats, one more than the ten the factions won in April. "We hope that with heavy campaigning in the next few weeks we can increase this to 13-14 seats," Jabareen concluded, stressing that this is both "possible and doable".