13 | 12 | 2019

The 13 members of the Knesset elected from the Joint List boycotted the inaugural swearing in of MKs to the 22nd Knesset held yesterday (Thursday, October 3) in Jerusalem. The lawmakers’ boycott came as part of Thursday’s general strike called for by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel’s. Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) said: “Dozens of people murdered since the beginning of this year are not just victims of violent crime; they are victims of the apathy of the government and law enforcement authorities.” “It is not acceptable that we continue burying our children while the rest of the MKs take celebratory photos in the plenum,” Odeh added. “We will join our constituents in demonstrations across the country.”

The Joint List sent a letter on Monday, September 30, to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit urging him to immediately open an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the hospitalization in critical condition of a Palestinian activist after he was interrogated by Israel’s security services. According to Arabic language Communist newspaper Al-Ittihad the letter sent by the Joint List to the AG contends that “The conduct of the security system, including the Shin Bet, in this case involved crossing a red line and breaking the law… There must be a thorough examination of the circumstances in this case, and a conclusion must be reached. Measures must be taken to limit torture and to prosecute those involved.”

The Joint List recommended Kahol Lavan (Blue & White) leader Benny Gantz for prime minister on Sunday, September 22, seemingly paving the way for the centrist party to get the first crack at assembling a coalition.

This decision marks the first time since 1992 that Hadash and Arab parties — separately or together — have recommended that the President of Israel (who is the authority who must make the decision) assign the task of forming and heading up a government assigned to a mainstream Zionist politician. In 1992, Hadash and the Arab Democratic Party supported the premiership of Labor Party leader Yitzhak Rabin, who had campaigned on a platform calling for peace with the Palestinians, but did not join the coalition.

The Joint List is set to be the largest non-ruling bloc in parliament – and may possibly even lead the opposition – if a national unity government emerges from Tuesday’s election. The Joint List has presented its stronger showing on Tuesday’s rerun as a victory over what it described as an “unprecedented campaign of incitement against the Arab public” by PM Benjamin Netanyahu and right-wing parties.

A surge in turnout gave the Joint List 13 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, making it the third-largest grouping behind Netanyahu’s far-right Likud party, with 31 seats, and Benny Gantz’s centrist and neoliberal Kahol-Lavan (Blue & White), with 33 MKs. That would make the Joint List the largest opposition grouping in parliament if a unity government takes shape, a realistic possibility even though Gantz has rebuffed Netanyahu’s initial invitation.

According to the results of the general elections of September 17, the Joint List supported by the Communist Party of Israel received 10.62% of all valid ballots cast, giving it 13 seats in the 22nd Knesset, the same number it won four and a half years ago when it first ran for the 20th Knesset in March 2015, thereby making it once again the third largest bloc in Israel’s parliament.

With all the votes counted from last Tuesday’s (September 17) general election, the Joint List received 10.62% of all valid ballots cast, giving it 13 seats in the 22nd Knesset, the same number it won four and a half years ago when it first ran for the 20th Knesset in March 2015, thereby making it once again the third largest bloc in Israel’s parliament.

The 13 elected members of the Knesset from the Joint List are: Ayman Odeh (Hadash), Mtanes Shehadeh (Balad), Ahmad Tibi (Ta’al), Mansour Abbas (Ra’am), Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash), Walid Taha (Ra’am), Ofer Cassif (Hadash), Heba Yazbak (Balad), Osama Saadi (Ta’al), Yousef Jabareen (Hadash), Said al-Harumi (Ra’am), Jaber Asakala (Hadash) and Sami Abu Shehadeh (Balad).

The Joint List’s electoral platform in the recent campaign called for the banning of the sale of Israeli arms to regimes that are known to commit atrocities and otherwise abuse human rights.

In recent years, Israeli companies have sold weapon systems, arms and ammunition to four countries, among their other customers, that are particularly problematic: Myanmar, where the regime has ethnically cleansed its Rohingya Muslim minority; South Sudan, which is engaged in a bloody civil war; Cameroon, which has committed atrocities in separatist regions; and the Philippines, which has engaged in extrajudicial killings and heavy-handed tactics in its brutal crackdown on guerrilla fighters and social movements.

Kav LaOved (KLO – Workers Hotline) has disclosed that hundreds of persons from peripheral capitalist countries are brought to Israeli kibbutzim and other farming enterprises as “volunteers” for agricultural work and are paid 1/3 of the local minimum wage, or just under 10 shekels (about US$ 2.75) an hour. KLO exposed this situation and submitted a demand for clear and standardized regulations in this matter with both the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Labor and Welfare. KLO’s submission was made jointly with The Hotline for Migrants and Refugees.

Leaders of the Joint List expressed deep satisfaction on Tuesday night, September 17, with the interim results of the elections for the 22nd Knesset. They announced that they will be meeting in the coming days to decide on their coming moves.

The Joint List MK’s and many Hadash and Communist Party of Israel activists also said they were delighted that far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems not to have a majority to form a coalition. “We’re back to being the third largest party in the Knesset,” said Joint List head, Hadash MK Ayman Odeh and expressed hope that “the era of Netanyahu is over and he will now either have to go home or to prison.” Odeh agreed with observers that, if the final results indeed match the exit polls, Arab voters will have “prevented Netanyahu from forming a government.”

Facebook announced on Thursday, September 12, that it was suspending a chatbot operated by far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official page for violating hate speech policies, after a message spread by his campaign warned that Arabs citizens of Israel “want to annihilate us all.” The head of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), who had complained to Facebook about the bot, welcomed the move.

“After careful review of the Likud campaign’s bot activities, we found a violation of our hate speech policy. We also found that the bot was misusing the platform in the time allowed to contact people. As a result, we suspended the bot for 24 hours. Should there be any additional violations, we will continue to take appropriate action,” a company spokesperson said.

A message appearing on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Facebook page on Wednesday, September 11, called on voters to prevent the formation of a “secular, weak, dangerous, leftist government, supported by Arabs who want to destroy us all – women, children and men – and that will make possible a nuclear Iran that will annihilate us.” The message, which was reported in the daily, Communist newspaper, Al-Ittihad sought to rally votes for the Likud in next Tuesday’s, September 17, general election.

Joint List leader, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) condemned the message, saying, “We have contacted [the management of] Facebook demanding they act immediately to put an end to this racist and dangerous incitement by Netanyahu against the Arab population.”

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