Aiman Odeh, head of united Arab list
Aiman Odeh, head of united Arab list Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Leaders of the Joint List, the amalgam of Arab parties that are running together as a single unit, have declared an “emergency situation” and are canvassing homes door to door in Arab towns, driving voters to the polls in order to garner support for the party. As a result, said sources in the party, the voting level in Arab towns so far Tuesday has been much higher than in previous elections.

Observers on the right said that a large Joint List, with 13 or even 15 MKs, would be solicited by Yitzhak Herzog to join his government if he is chosen to put together a coalition. In an interview on Israel Radio Monday, party head Ayman Odeh said that if the party did get 15 seats and became part of a government, it would be willing to pass on a seat it would be eligible for on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, trading it in for an extra seat on the Welfare, Economics, or Finance committees.

Although the Central Elections Committee has not yet issued specific statistics about voting by sector or location, activists said that some 10% of eligible voters in Arab towns had gone to the polls by noon Tuesday, compared to 3% in the 2013 elections.

Nationwide, some 13.7% of Israelis had voted by 10 AM. That, too was more than had voted by the same hour in 2013, when 11.4% had voted by 10. Observers said, however, that this did not necessarily mean that the overall percentage of voting would be higher than in the last elections, because it was likely that many people had gone to the polls early in the day in order to take advantage of the day off, shopping or going out to eat.

Meretz activists were said to be very fearful that the party may not get the minimum number of votes to qualify for any Knesset seats at all. That, too, could be a function of the popularity of the Joint List; in previous elections, a significant number of Meretz's votes had come from the Arab sector, but with the rise of the Joint List, as well as the migration of voters from Meretz to Zionist Union/Labor, Meretz's chances of having any seats in the next Knesset are not positive, analysts said.

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