Joint List head claims 'huge success' with historic 15-seat win

Odeh urges left-wingers not to despair over results showing right-wing bloc in lead; calls his party, which garnered more than 530,000 votes in Monday ballot, the 'principled alternative for the entire Israeli political map'

Hassan Shaalan, Matan Tzuri|
Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh declared a “huge achievement” in Monday’s elections after nearly final results showed the party had won 15 seats in Knesset, their largest win in any national ballot.
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  • “Brothers and sisters, you have created a historic day,” Odeh said in a recorded statement in Arabic.
    “From the first elections in 1949 until today, we have not received this degree of support and this number of seats.”
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    Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh
    (Photo: Gil Nahoshton )
    The near-final results of the elections - the country's third in less than a year - showed that more than 530,000 Israelis voted for the Joint List.
    In a separate statement to reporters in Hebrew, Odeh said that Joint List received votes from many Jewish voters and contended that it needed to become “the principled alternative for the entire Israeli political map.”
    “I call on left-wingers not to despair or soul search, but rather think about partnership and a principled alternative,” he said, adding that he was talking about “real peace and democracy, actual equality between Arabs and Jews and social justice for all disadvantaged persons."
    “As of this moment, we will strengthen the cooperation between us and the weak groups of Israeli society,” he said.
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    Joint List MKs at a rally after the exit polls results
    (Photo: Gil Nahoshton )
    Asked if the Joint List was the “new left,” Odeh did not directly answer the question but stated that the alliance would “strengthen the left and the Jewish-Arab alternative.”
    Several Joint List officials have recently said that they want the alliance to play a greater role in influencing decision-making in Israeli politics.
    Odeh also pointed out that the Joint List was the only opposition party that according to the nearly final results managed to increase its numbers in the Knesset.
    “With the exception of the Joint List, they all went down,” he said.
    The near-final results suggested that Blue & White would retain its role as the largest party in the opposition but would drop from 33 to 32 MKs; they also indicated that the Labor-Gesher-Meretz alliance would only win six seats.
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    Veteran MK Ahmad Tibi of Joint List
    (Photo: Avi Moalem)
    In his statement, Odeh also accused Blue & White of failing to become “an alternative to the right” that had instead chosen to adopt right-wing positions.
    Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi told Army Radio on Tuesday that Blue & White came up short in the election because of their strategy of seeking to take votes from the right.
    “It turns out that the public prefers the original source, not an imitation,” he said, according to the Israeli media.
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