Israel's Arab parties this week announced the return of the joint list on which they ran during the 2015 elections. The four parties - Balad, Hadash, Ra'am and Ta'al - made the decision during a meeting held Wednesday.
"Most of the Arab citizens want a joint list," the parties said in a statement. "As such, we have put in the effort to come together as one party instead of splitting into two (lists)."
Representing the four parties at the meeting were Mansur Dehamshe of Hadash; Ossma Saadi of Ta'al; Dr. Ibrahim Hijazi of Ra'am; and Dr. Jamal Zahalka of Balad. The representatives agreed to begin a public campaign right away.
In the April elections, the four parties ran as two lists – Ra'am with Balad and Hadash with Ta'al. Both lists won enough seats to enter the Knesset, but the Ra'am-Balad list narrowly squeaked past the threshold with four seats. Hadash-Ta'al got six seats, bringing the total number of Knesset members for the Arab community to 10.
In the 2015 elections, however, the joint list of all four parties won 13 seats.
The parties said that a joint list was no less important today than it was in 2015, especially in light of the "racist, colonial Nation-State Law and its consequences; discriminatory policies; the siege (on Gaza); land confiscation; the struggle to find housing in the Arab community; the establishment's effort to strip our citizenship of all meaning; and our will to battle increased crime and violence."
The statement said that the results of the last elections – in which they lost three seats - were a "severe blow to the political effort" in the Arab community. As such, drawing conclusions and learning lessons was crucial.
The statement added: "To that end, there are new challenges on a diplomatic level, especially in the efforts with the United States to execute the 'Deal of the Century' by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the U.S. Embassy there, by recognizing the annexation of the Golan Heights, the attacks on UNRWA (the UN organization for Palestinian refugees whose budget has been cut by the U.S.), and the worrying 'regional conversations' taking place, such as the upcoming conference set to take place in Manama, the capital of Bahrain."
Ta'al Chairman Ayman Odeh said after the decision was announced: "Our forces are unified, we have similar pasts, similar visions for our future, and from today, a joint list. We will fight for Arab rights in the country, peace, and democracy for all the citizens of Israel."
Drafting the list of candidates for the Knesset will take place in the next few days by a joint committee, as it was in 2015.
At this point, it is unclear whether the members of the Knesset chosen in the April elections for Hadash-Ta'al and Ra'am-Balad will claim the first 10 spots on the list.