Ahmet Tibi
Ahmet TibiKobi Richter/TPS

The predominantly Arab Joint List party is looking to boost Arab turnout in next year’s election, in the hopes of netting an additional two mandates, MK Ahmed Tibi said at Wednesday’s Ma’ariv conference.

Tibi, a former OBGYN who served as an adviser for Yasser Arafat in the 1990s before entering the Knesset in 1999, expressed optimism regarding the March 2nd election, saying his Joint List party would outperform its showing in the September election.

While Arab turnout rose significantly in the September election, Tibi said he is confident it will rise even higher in March, positioning the Joint List to gain two seats, rising from 13 to 15.

“The only party that isn’t afraid of this election is the Joint List,” said Tibi. “We have a sense for the [Arab] street and our public, and there is an increase in support. Whether they will be ‘streaming’ or not, they will come out to vote,” Tibi added, alluding to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s 2015 election day warning that Arab voters were “streaming” to the polls in record numbers.

“The voter turnout level [among Arabs] last time was 59%. We are aiming for 15 seats and I think that this time we will get to at least 65% [turnout], and it will likely be even better than the turnout in 2015.”

Tibi argued that the increase in support for the Joint List was a result of the party’s efforts to combat crime in the Arab sector.

“The increase in the public’s faith in the Joint List comes primarily from our work regarding crime in the Arab sector, whether it’s through activities in the Knesset, on the street, or in the large protest in Majd al-Krum, as well as the meeting with police top brass.”

Turning to allegations against him that his "martyrs speech" constituted incitement, Tibi insisted records of the speech had been selectively edited to make it appear more extreme.

"There's never been a lie like the lie of the ‘Martyr's Speech’,” said Tibi.

During a ceremony held on the occasion of "Palestinian Martyrs Day” and sponsored by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas in 2011, Tibi said, “In the history of the peoples and their battles, the Palestinian shahid (martyr) is the height of glory. There is no higher value than death for the sake of Allah. The martyr is the one who breaks through and with his blood draws the journey to freedom and liberation.”

The State Prosecutor rejected a criminal investigation against Tibi over the speech.