Israel’s Arab parties form joint Knesset slate

Ben Sales

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The Israeli Arab Knesset factions have formed a joint slate ahead of Israel’s March 17 elections.

The united list, formed Friday, includes representatives from the secular Balad and Ta’al parties, the Islamic Movement and the Arab-Jewish socialist Hadash party, according to Israeli reports. It will be led by Haifa attorney Ayman Odeh, a Hadash member who has never served in Knesset.

The parties joined together following the passage last year of an Israeli law that requires parties to gain 3.25 percent of the vote in order to enter Knesset, up from 2 percent. The parties feared that, running individually, they could all fall short of the raised threshold.

Hadash and Ra’am-Ta’al, a joint list, each currently hold four seats, and Balad holds three, for a total of 11 seats. Polls show the united slate gaining as many as 12 seats in the March election. Hadash lawmaker Dov Khenin, who will be in the list’s eighth spot, will likely be the only Jewish member of the slate to enter Knesset.