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January 23, 2015 12:38 pm

Arab Parties Unite Ahead of Israeli Knesset Elections

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The Israeli Knesset building. Credit: James Emery. Israel’s Arab political parties—Balad, Ra’am-Ta’al, and Hadash—on Thursday announced that they will be vying in the March 17 Knesset elections on a joint ticket. Newly elected Hadash party leader Aiman Ouda has been chosen to head the new Arab list, whose name has yet to be announced.

While polls predicted an independent race by the Arab parties would see Ra’am-Ta’al and Hadash each win only handful of seats, Balad was predicted to fail to meet the election threshold altogether, which would have excluded it from the Knesset for the first time since 1996.

A joint ticket, however, could see the Arab parties win as many as 14 Knesset seats, potentially making them the fourth-largest faction in the Knesset. Balad party chairman MK Jamal Zahalka called the joint Arab ticket “our answer to the racist right and to those who wanted to annihilate Arab representation in Israeli politics.”

Arab Knesset members have been known for their anti-Israel rhetoric, particularly MK Hanin Zoabi, who received a six-month suspension from the Knesset last summer after saying that the kidnappers of the three murdered Israeli teens were “not terrorists” and for accusing Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.

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