United Arab List

Israeli-Arab political party


[9]Websitealmwahda.com (archived)

The United Arab List (Hebrew: הַרְשִׁימָה הַעֲרָבִית הַמְאוּחֶדֶת, HaReshima HaAravit HaMe'uhedet; Arabic: القائمة العربية الموحدة, al-Qā'ima al-'Arabiyya al-Muwaḥḥada), commonly known by its Hebrew acronym Ra'am (Hebrew: רע"מ, lit. 'Thunder'), is an Arab political party in Israel and the political wing of the Southern Branch of the Islamic movement.[10] It was part of the Joint List but left the alliance on 28 January 2021.[11] In 2021 it formally joined a coalition of parties forming the thirty-sixth government.[12] It is currently led by Mansour Abbas.[13]


United Arab List election ballot, 2013

The party was established prior to the 1996 election, unrelated to the original United Arab List that existed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was joined in an electoral alliance by the Arab Democratic Party (which held two seats in the outgoing parliament) and the southern faction of the Islamic Movement, led by Sheikh Abdullah Nimar Darwish.[14] The party initially went under the title of Mada-Ra'am, Mada being the acronym and common name for the Arab Democratic Party. In the election, the party won four seats. During the Knesset term, the Arab Democratic Party became a faction within the United Arab List, and its name was dropped from the party title.

The 1999 election saw the party increase its share of the vote and pick up five seats. However, internal disagreements saw three MKs leave; Muhamad Kanan and Tawfik Khatib left and established the Arab National Party, whilst Hashem Mahameed formed the National Unity – National Progressive Alliance party. In the 2003 election, the party's support dropped by more than a third, with the party only just crossing the electoral threshold of 2%, and winning only two seats.

RaL'am logo
Logo used by the party before 2019

For the 2006 election, the party entered an alliance with Ahmad Tibi's Ta'al party. Running together, the alliance won four seats, three of which were taken by the United Arab List. The partys' alliance was maintained for the 2009 election, which initially saw the Israeli Central Elections Committee ban the party from participating,[15] but this was overturned by the Supreme Court of Israel.[16] In the election, the alliance again won four seats. Shortly before the 2013 election, Taleb el-Sana left the party to sit as an independent Arab Democratic Party member.

After the electoral threshold to gain Knesset seats was raised from 2% to 3.25%, the party joined with Hadash, Balad, Ta'al, and the Islamic Movement to form the Joint List for the 2015 election.[17] For the April 2019 election, it ran on a list with Balad.[18] The party again ran as part of the Joint List in the 2020 election.[19]

Coalition government

In the 2021 elections the party won four seats in the Knesset.[20] Within the fragmented political landscape of Israel, these seats gave the party the role of kingmaker in determining the next government after Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form one.[21][22][23][24] On 2 June 2021, party leader Mansour Abbas signed an agreement to form a coalition government, the first time an independent Arab party became a member of the Israeli government, and the first time in more than 50 years that any Arab party formed part of the Israeli government; a photograph of Abbas, sitting with Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, signing the coalition agreement was widely circulated.[25][22] The agreement included guarantees that more than 53 billion shekels (US$16 billion) would be spent to improve infrastructure and reduce crime in Arab towns, provisions protecting homes built without permits in Arab villages, and recognition for Bedouin towns in the Negev desert.[13][26]

On 28 October 2021 the cabinet approved a plan to spend US$9.4 billion to improve employment opportunities and health services for Israeli Arabs and improve housing, technology, and infrastructure in Arab areas;[27][28] it included a further US$1 billion to address high crime rates in Arab areas.[27][29] In the scale of funding range of issues in the Arab community addressed, the plan had little precedent in Israeli history, and Abbas and Ra'am were widely credited with pushing forward what Abbas called a "historic step" forward for Arab Israelis.[24][28][30] The plan was signed into law when the budget passed on 4 November.[31]

At the United Arab List's urging, the coalition government has recognized several Bedouin villages and has connected thousands of previously-illegal homes to the electrical grid.[24][32][33]

Ideology and support

Under Abbas's direction, the United Arab List advocates for full-fledged political involvement with the domestic politics of Israel in order to improve the quality of life of Arab Israelis, particularly with respect to crime, employment opportunities, housing, and infrastructure; this is a departure from other Arab parties, which historically form part of the opposition and focus on the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[34][35][36][37][38]

The party supports the two-state solution, and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.[38] Its constituency consists mostly of religious or nationalist Israeli Arabs, and enjoys particular popularity among the Negev Bedouin: in the 2009 election, 80% of residents of Bedouin communities voted for the party.[39]

The Islamic Movement also operates in poor Arab towns and villages, as well as in Bedouin settlements, to mobilize voters. The southern faction of the Islamic Movement is now the dominant force in the party, whilst other factions include the Arab National Party. The Islamic Movement's advisory religious body, known as the Majlis-ash-Shura (Shura Council), has guided the party's votes in parliament.[40]

Election results

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/– Status
1996[a] Abdulmalik Dehamshe 89,514 2.93
2 / 120
1999 114,810 3.49
4 / 120
Increase 2 Opposition
2003 65,551 2.08
1 / 120
Decrease 3 Opposition
2006[b] Ibrahim Sarsur 94,786 3.02
3 / 120
Increase 2 Opposition
2009[b] 113,954 3.38
2 / 120
Decrease 1 Opposition
2013 138,450 3.65
4 / 120
Increase 2 Opposition
2015 Masud Ghnaim with Joint List
4 / 120
Steady Opposition
Apr 2019[c] Mansour Abbas 143,666 3.31
2 / 120
Decrease 2 Snap election
Sep 2019 with Joint List
3 / 120
Increase 1 Snap election
2020 with Joint List
4 / 120
Increase 1 Opposition
2021 167,064 3.79
4 / 120
Steady Coalition
2022 193,916 4.07
5 / 120
Increase 1
  1. ^ Ra'am–Mada alliance
  2. ^ a b Ra'am–Ta'al alliance
  3. ^ Ra'am–Balad alliance

Knesset membership

Current Knesset members

Former Knesset members

See also


  1. ^ "Israel Elections: Likud remains largest party, no bloc wins - polls". Jerusalem Post. 6 February 2021.
  2. ^ Carol Migdalovitz (18 May 2015). "Israel: Background and Relations with the United States" (PDF). CRS Issue Brief for Congress. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  3. ^ Rubin, Barry (2012). Israel: An Introduction. Yale University Press. p. 219. ISBN 978-0300162301.
  4. ^ Freedman, Robert O., ed. (2008). Contemporary Israel: Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy, and Security Challenges. Westview Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0813343853.
  5. ^ Farah Swellam (12 June 2021). "Ra'am: A party with a complex history, imperative in creating new gov't". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  6. ^ Ahlswede, Stefan (2009). Israel's European Policy After the Cold War. Nomos. p. 47.
  7. ^ "Jewish homophobe says he is not opposed to Arab homophobes backing coalition". timesofisrael.com. The Times of Israel. Archived from the original on 29 March 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  8. ^ Rothwell, James (3 June 2021). "Israel: Benjamin Netanyahu poised for exit as opposition proclaims new coalition government". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 September 2022. In response, the socially conservative Ra'am party ...
  9. ^ "הרשימה הערבית המאוחדת". Central Election Committee for the Knesset (in Hebrew). Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  10. ^ The Arab Minority in Israel and the Knesset Elections The Washington Institute
  11. ^ Staff writer; Aaron Boxerman (28 January 2021). "Knesset panel approves Joint List's breakup after talks with Ra'am faction fail". The Times of Israel.
  12. ^ "Document signed by 8 parties in intended new government". The Times of Israel. 2 June 2021. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  13. ^ a b Ayyub, Rami (3 June 2021). "Arab Islamist helps clinch Israel's new anti-Netanyahu government". Reuters. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  14. ^ "'It's Possible to Do Things Differently.' The Arab Kingmaker Who Joined Israel's Far-Right to Oust Netanyahu". Time. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  15. ^ "Israel bans Arab parties from running in upcoming elections". Haaretz. 12 January 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  16. ^ Sharon Roffe-Ofir (21 January 2009). "Hadash praises verdict on Arab parties". Ynetnews. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  17. ^ Hazboun, Areej; Estrin, Daniel (28 January 2015). "As Arab MKs unite, a new political landscape emerges". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  18. ^ "FULL LIST: The Parties and Candidates Running in Israel's Election". Haaretz. 20 February 2019. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  19. ^ Rasgon, Adam (3 March 2020). "Headed for 15 seats, Joint List chief claims 'huge' success, cites Jewish voters". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Final Israeli election results confirm deadlock". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  21. ^ Kershner, Isabel (2 June 2021). "The Arab party Raam makes history within coalition". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  22. ^ a b Boxerman, Aaron. "History made as Arab Israeli Ra'am party joins Bennett-Lapid coalition". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  23. ^ "Analysis | An Islamist party is part of Israel's new coalition government. How did that happen?". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  24. ^ a b c "Arab leader's gamble to play kingmaker in Israel is paying off". NPR. Associated Press. 17 January 2022. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  25. ^ Kingsley, Patrick; Rasgon, Adam (3 June 2021). "Fragile Israeli Coalition to Oust Netanyahu Faces Growing Pressure". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  26. ^ Rasgon, Adam (10 June 2021). "A New Israeli Government Could Mean Help for Neglected Bedouin Villages". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  27. ^ a b "Israeli cabinet backs huge spending plan for Arab minority". BBC News. 25 October 2021. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  28. ^ a b "Five-year Plan for Israel's Arab Community: $9 Billion Won't Bridge a Gap Decades in the Making". Haaretz. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  29. ^ Boxerman, Aaron. "Cabinet okays NIS 32 billion to develop Arab Israeli economy, fight crime". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  30. ^ Boxerman, Aaron. "As unprecedented billions planned for under-served Arabs, devil's in the details". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  31. ^ Wootliff, Raoul; staff, T. O. I. "Coalition passes 2021 budget, first in 3.5 years, averting early election threat". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  32. ^ Boxerman, Aaron. "Government legalizes 3 unrecognized Bedouin towns, fulfilling Ra'am's pledge". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  33. ^ "3 Bedouin villages to be recognized, receive infrastructure". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  34. ^ Kingsley, Patrick (4 July 2021). "As Secular Peace Effort Stutters in Israel, Religious Mediators Hope to Step In". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  35. ^ "The Arab-Israeli Power Broker in the Knesset". The New Yorker. 22 October 2021. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  36. ^ "Arab leader's gamble to play kingmaker in Israel is paying off". NPR. Associated Press. 17 January 2022. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  37. ^ "Why 1 Arab Party Joined Israel's Coalition Government But The Other Did Not". NPR.org. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  38. ^ a b Can United Arab List change Israeli politics from within? Al Jazeera, 2 July 2021
  39. ^ "How They Voted: See Israel election results by city/sector". Haaretz. 17 February 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  40. ^ Ayyub, Rami (3 June 2021). "Arab Islamist helps clinch Israel's new anti-Netanyahu government". Reuters. Retrieved 18 September 2022.

External links

  • Official website (archived)
  • Islamic Movement (in Arabic)
  • United Arab List Knesset website
  • Mada-Ra'am Knesset website
  • Ra'am-Ta'al Knesset website
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