Jewish-Israeli left vote swinging to Palestinian parties

Ayman Odeh, member of the Knesset and head of the Joint List (Photo file)

Middle East Monitor  /  February 19, 2020

Left-wing Jewish Israeli are planning to vote for the Palestinian dominated Joint List in the upcoming Israeli election, Haaretz has reported.

Israeli Jews are casting off centre leftist parties like Meretz and Labour in favour of the coalition of Palestinian parties.

This swing may lead the Joint List gaining up to two seats in the Knesset in March’s general election.

Haaretz reported many Jewish voters saying they don’t feel leftist Israeli parties take a strong enough stance against the occupation.

Former Meretz voter and history teacher Ofek Ravid, 28, told Haaretz:  “Arabs [Palestinians] are a repressed minority in Israel, and I want there to be a voice that represents them. At one time, I could count on Meretz to fill that role, but I can’t any longer.”

He continued: “I mean just look at their ambivalent response to the so-called Trump peace plan and their responses to the ongoing clashes in Gaza. The Joint List has a much clearer voice on these matters.”

Tel Aviv-based Omri Yavin, who also used to vote for Meretz, is throwing his support behind the Joint List, saying the Zionist left parties had “failed miserably”.

He said: “Maybe salvation will come from them. In Labour and Meretz, you no longer have any true leaders – just presenters. Ayman Odeh, on the other hand, has shown real leadership qualities, and I believe he is the only politician today with the skills to lead a social-democratic bloc dedicated to shared society and coexistence.”

The Joint List has begun reaching across sectarian lines and running campaigns in Yiddish targeting the Haredi community with the campaign slogan: “Your vote against the compulsory draft.”

They have also been targeting Ethiopian Israelis in their election campaign, who have historically been marginalised by Israeli society.

Like many Palestinians living in Israel, they face police brutality, and are treated as second class citizens.

Israel goes to the polls for the third time in a year on 2 March, and the election is expected to end in a deadlock again between Benny Gantz’ Blue and White Party (Kahol Lavan) and incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

Despite the Joint List’s growing support, Gantz has sworn he will not include the party in any coalition government he may lead.