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Joint List isolates itself before elections

The decision by Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of predominantly Arab parties, to refuse a vote-sharing deal with the leftist Zionist Meretz Party might discredit his commitment to rebuild the bridges between Jews and Arabs.
An Israeli Arab walks past a campaign poster showing Israeli-Arab candidates who are members of a joint list of Arab parties (from L to R), Ahmad Tibi, Jamal Zahalka, Masud Ghanayem and Ayman Odeh, in Kfar Menda, 16 kilometres northwest of the city of Nazareth, on March 8, 2015. General elections in Israel are to take place on March 17. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI        (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Joint List of predominantly Arab parties has reportedly refused to sign a vote-sharing agreement with the Meretz Party, thereby undercutting efforts to close ranks between Israel’s centrist and left-wing parties. The failure of this move could cost the centrist-left bloc a seat or two in the Knesset and might very well determine who will become the next prime minister and the composition of the coalition.

According to the Israeli electoral method, vote-sharing agreements are designed to find a place for lost votes that are insufficient to form one Knesset seat. Had it not been for the refusal of the Joint List, the Zionist Camp — which recently signed a vote-sharing agreement with Meretz — would have perhaps signed an agreement with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party, while Meretz and the Joint List would have divvied up the surplus votes. Consequently, the centrist and left-wing votes would have "remained at home," namely within the bloc. But Balad and the representatives of the Islamic movement in the Joint List torpedoed the initiative, claiming that there should be no cooperation whatsoever with a Zionist movement.

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