Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to drive a wedge between the four parties that make up the Joint List in a bid to divide them and decrease their seats in the Knesset, Haaretz newspaper reported.
The paper said tensions "reached a new level this week due to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's participation in a meeting of the Special Committee for Eradicating Crime in the Arab Sector, chaired by the Joint List's Mansour Abbas."
The internal rift among the parties that make up the Joint List "worsened this week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participated in a special meeting of the Knesset Committee on Violence in Arab Society headed by [Arab] MK, Mansour Abbas who also leads the United Arab List", noting that Netanyahu's participation was met with "severe criticism", by the Arab-Israeli community and the political arena who viewed the participation as an attempt to get closer to Abbas and drive a wedge in the Joint List.
Senior figures in the Joint List, who spoke on condition of anonymity, criticised Abbas, saying his behaviour caused great harm.
However, Abbas rejected the criticism "and claimed he is conducting a different policy and discourse for the sake of achievements for the Arab public", the paper explained.
An internal assessment by the Joint List showed that dissolving the list and competing with two lists would result in a 45 per cent drop in the percentage of Arab community votes obtained, which would severely affect Arab representation in the Knesset.