Palestinian Joint List splits ahead of Israel elections

Palestinian Joint List splits ahead of Israel elections
The Joint List bloc of Palestinian parties in Israel has split, with the Balad party saying it will run independently, in a move which could aid right-wing former PM Netanyahu.
2 min read
16 September, 2022
The split may reduce Palestinian representation in the Israeli Knesset [Getty]

A bloc of parties representing Palestinian citizens of Israel has split ahead of the fifth Israeli elections in less than four years, a move that could dilute the minority's political influence and aid right-wing former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's return to power.

Israeli media reported late Thursday that the nationalist Balad party will run separately from the other two parties in the Joint List.

If it does not meet the minimum threshold, Balad would not enter the next parliament and its votes would essentially be wasted.

The disunity could also dampen overall turnout among Israel's Palestinian minority, which accounts for 20% of Israel's population.

Palestinian parties have helped block Netanyahu from returning to power in recent elections. A fourth Arab party, the Islamist Ra'am, also broke from the Joint List and made history last year by joining a governing coalition for the first time.

Israel's Palestinian citizens have close familial ties to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and largely identify with their cause. Despite major gains in recent decades, in medicine and other fields, they still face systematic discrimination in Israel.

The November 1 elections, like the last four, are expected to be a hard-fought race between former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, and a constellation of parties from across the political spectrum that believe he is unfit to rule.

Live Story

Israeli elections are contests among multiple political parties, none of which has ever won an outright majority.

Would-be prime ministers must assemble coalitions with at least 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

The fracturing of the Joint List would appear to benefit Netanyahu by diluting the influence of his most strident opponents.

However, without Balad, the other two parties might be more open to joining a coalition led by the current caretaker prime minister, Yair Lapid, a center-left politician and Netanyahu's main opponent.

It is unclear, however, whether Lapid's potential right-wing allies would accept such an alliance.

Recent polling predicts a close-fought race between Netanyahu and Lapid, with each political camp struggling to assemble a majority. If both fail, Israel would go to elections yet again.