Support for Zoabi Barring May Spell End of Labor Coalition Hopes

February 6, 2015  

The joint Labor-Hatnua list has been running neck and neck with Likud in polls, but that may all be for naught as Labor’s support of a petition to bar pro-Hamas MK Hanin Zoabi may see the united Arab list turn against it.

The Arab parties have been tying with Jewish Home for third or coming in right behind it in recent weeks, meaning that even if Labor ekes past Likud and gets the nod to have first crack at forming a coalition, it would likely be unable to garner the needed 61 mandates for a coalition without the Arab parties.

Arab MK Jamal Zahalka, chair of Zoabi’s Balad party, criticized Labor head Yitzhak Herzog on Army Radio, saying “he wants to mark himself as Likud B; I think he will definitely lose the elections due to it.”

Zahalka did not mince words, clarifying that he will not recommend Herzog for prime minister to the president in the coming elections.

“We won’t recommend Herzog, I oppose a recommendation of him, especially after what he’s doing and what he’s signalling, that he’s going on the path of Binyamin Netanyahu,” stated Zahalka.

“We all have a clear position that we want Netanyahu to fall,” he emphasized. “Netanyahu acted dirty in Gaza, there were so many victims, and I think that it’s very important that he falls so that every prime minister that will be elected won’t be tempted to wage war to profit in elections.”

Remarking on the petitions against Zoabi, who has openly supported Hamas in its struggle to destroy Israel, the Balad head said “the jurists who saw the request to bar said they are much thinner than barring requests that were in the past.”

In response, the Labor party released a statement saying “we support full equal rights, but we disagree with the serious statements of Zoabi.”

In fact a key Arab candidate on the Labor list said he has “no problem” with Zoabi – before being told his party was supporting her barring.

Labor has been actively courting the Arab vote. In an Arabic-language ad, the party erased its name – the “Zionist camp” – instead calling itself “the Labor party for peace and equality.”

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