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Palestinian-Israeli parties celebrate victory over Netanyahu's right-wing agenda

The Arab Joint List Alliance celebrated the election results in Nazareth [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 18 September, 2019

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Chairman of the Arab Joint List alliance, Ayman Odeh, celebrated the general election result as an opportunity to 'send that inciter Netanyahu home'.
Leaders of the Joint List of Arab Parties are celebrating their successful hard won campaign in the Israeli general election, which they see as a victory over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing agenda.

Exit polls say the coalition of Palestinian-majority parties has won 11 to 15 seats, Haaretz reported.

"I want to thank our public, this was a great achievement for us," said chairman of the Joint List Ayman Odeh.  

"The Arab public responded, went out and delivered a great vote of confidence to the Joint List, and I believe we will end up with 13 seats and send that inciter Netanyahu home."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be less exuberant about the election outcome. Netanyahu and his main challenger Benny Gantz were deadlocked Wednesday, raising the possibility of a unity government or even the end of the premier's long rule.

Various Israeli media reported that Netanyahu's right-wing Likud and the his rival Gantz's Blue and White were matched with 32 seats each of parliament's 120 with more than 90 percent of the vote counted.

End of Netanyahu

The mainly Arab Joint List alliance is set to become the third-largest force in parliament with a projected 12 seats, the reports said.

That could put the Palestinian-Israeli parties in position to block Netanyahu from continuing as prime minister if they decide to break with precedent and endorse Gantz for the job.

The Joint List coalition is made up of four major Palestinian-Israeli parties. There are major ideological differences between them – the list includes the left-wing Hadash group and the Arab nationalist National Democratic Assembly (Balad).

Israel's Palestinian parties have traditionally not endorsed anyone for prime minister. 

A Joint List spokesman told the Times of Israel on Wednesday that Gantz called Odeh and that the two have agreed to meet.

"We first must wait for the final results and hear what Gantz has to say. Then we need to sit down and study the political map and decide," Joint List candidate Aida Touma-Sliman told the newspaper.

Endorsing Gantz as Israel's next prime minister would not come without certain guarantees, said party candidate Mansour Abbas, such as a pledge to renew the Israel-Palestine peace process.

High turnout

"The main difference in this vote is the turnout among Arab citizens," Joint List leader Ayman Odeh told journalists outside his home in the northern city of Haifa on Wednesday.

"There's no doubt that this is what made the difference. Without that, Netanyahu would already be prime minister."

Israeli-Palestinian voters stayed away from the April election, with reports placing the turnout at less than half. The Joint List's campaign manager Aaed Kayel believes the September turnout rose above 60 percent, according to the Times.

The Joint List had disbanded for the previous elections but reunified in late July ahead of yesterday's vote.

A key part of the campaign rhetoric for Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party attempting to persuade reticent voters to take to the polls has been to warn of Palestinians citizens of Israel turning out in large numbers and potentially swaying the vote.

Comment: Palestinian hopes don't lie in Israel's election, but in America 2020

Facebook previously suspended a chatbot operated by Netanyahu's official page for inciting hatred against Arabs after it told Israeli voters "Arabs want to annihilate us all".

Palestinian-Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who remained in their towns and villages in 1948, when Zionist militias expelled the vast majority of Palestinians from what became Israel.

They make up roughly 21 percent of the Israeli population and an estimated 940,000 of them have the right to vote.

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