The Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties has officially launched its run for the upcoming March 23 election without the United Arab List [Ra'am], the parties announced Thursday morning after talks between its four constituent factions collapsed last week.
The fracture between the longtime allies stemmed from Ra’am’s connections to the ruling Likud party and its chairman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as disagreements regarding issues of religion and conservatism among Arab society.
"The other elements of the joint list have refused to commit to not voting on laws that contradict the beliefs of our conservative society, including support for homosexuality,” Ra’am said in an announcement.
"We tried to overcome these obstacles for the sake of unity and announced that we have agreed to consider Netanyahu a red line so the alliance would be an independent and influential force. However, the elements of the other parties were unwilling to talk about alternatives and political influence, and insisted on refusing to commit to not voting on laws that contradict our society's beliefs,” the party added.
StatNet Survey Institute CEO Yousef Makladeh assessed that Netanyahu managed to assuage a hefty slice of the Arab public with his recent attempts to reconcile with Israel's Arab population.
According to Makladeh, the voter turnout among Arabs is expected to drop from 65% to 56% - meaning about 100,000 Arab voters will not cast their ballot in the upcoming elections.
Makladeh added that he believes Netanyahu, who in the last election received about a third of a seat in Knesset from the Arab public, would have received 2.7 seats from Arab voters had Ra'am not broken away from the Joint List.
“This is thanks to Likud's work that tries to speak to the hearts of the people - and succeeds in doing so.”
Makladeh added that now that Ra’am broke off from the Joint List, half of Netanyahu's power in the Arab sector may move to Abbas' party, although it is not certain whether Ra’am will pass the electoral threshold.
"Right now, there are all kinds of scenarios,” Makladeh said. “In some, Ra’am gets three seats and in some five seats. If the former mayor of Sakhnin Mazen Ghanem joins the party, and also the mayor of Nazareth Ali Salam, who already announced his support for the party, Ra’am would most likely receive around five seats.”