Israel / Occupied Palestine: The Major Mistake of the Arab Joint List

Statement of the Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), 19 March 2020,

On Sunday the leaders of the four parties that form the Arab Joined list decided to recommend “Blue and White” chairman Benny Gantz to President Reuven Rivlin as their choice for the next coalition government. So did the right wing Liberman and it seems as if Gantz has a small chance of becoming the next Prime Minister of Israel.

‘Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh told Rivlin after recommending Gantz: “If Gantz wants to form a unity government, we will be the main opponents. If he wants to form a center-left government – we recommend Gantz. If 61 MKs recommend Gantz, we ask that members of the Joint List recommend him.” [1]

If Gantz will form the new government it will not include any minister from the Arab list, they will support Gantz from the “outside”.

However if Avigdor Liberman from “Israel is our home” (Yisrael Beytenu) that declared many times that this party want to expel the Palestinians citizens of Israel will join Gantz government the Arab Joined list will not be able to support such a government said the leaders of the list.

Meantime President Reuven Rivlin is pushing Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to form a unity government on the ground that such a government is necessary to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Since Gantz received a majority of recommendations from the 61 MKs of Blue and White, the Joint List, Labor-Meretz and Yisrael Beytenu, Rivlin’s at first said he would give Gantz the mandate to form a government on Monday afternoon, but then he invited Netanyahu and Gantz to meet.

Some MKs from Blue and white party oppose a minority government backed by the Joint List of Arab parties, which is the Blue and White’s only possibility for a narrow, so called in Israel “center-left coalition” (In reality another right wing government).

Netanyahu said he was also ready to discuss a unity government with a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office. But he said that in such a government, he would be prime minister the first two years while Gantz served as vice prime minister. Gantz so far has rejected this offer.

Balad under pressure

Whether Gantz will be the next prime minister or not we share the position of many members of Balad who oppose the endorsement of Gantz.

After the election in September, Balad refused to join its allies in the Joint List by endorsing Gantz for the premiership.

At that time Balad that stands for “the transformation of the State of Israel into a democracy for all its citizens, irrespective of national or ethnic identity “stated correctly that Gantz Zionist ideology, his right-wing positions are not much different from the Likud. In Haaretz on September 26, 2019, Balad secretary-general and MK Mtanes Shehadeh wrote that Blue and White “is part of the traditional Right, “Its views on the occupation aren’t very different from Netanyahu’s, It is true for its views on Israel’s character and identity and on economic policy”.[2] Only a few days ago Mtanes pointed to the role of Gantz role as the army chief of staff during the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip that killed two thousands Palestinians and to his support for US President Donald Trump’s plan for Mideast peace and the “annexation” of parts of the West Bank.

Mohammad Darwashe, a political analyst and director at the Givat Haviva Institute, told The Jerusalem Post that Balad’s decision is result of the fact that unless it adhered to the positions of Hadash Ta’al and the United Arab List it would be separated from the list and may not be able to win enough votes to enter the Zionist parliament. Balad was also under pressure to join the decision to back Gantz because the other Joint List parties stood with them when MK Heba Yazbak of Balad was facing the possibility of being barred from running in the election.

While several Palestinians citizens if Israel praised the Joint List’s endorsement of Gantz, others accused Balad of “hypocrisy” for supporting the move. “Balad has betrayed its voters,” said Samir Abdullah, a supporter of the party from Haifa. “I’m very disappointed with the leadership of Balad for endorsing General Gantz. We see no real difference between Gantz and Netanyahu. Both have been delegitimizing the Arab citizens of Israel.”[3]

“We didn’t recommend Gantz out of love for the man, but because we believe there’s an urgent need to prevent Netanyahu from remaining in power,” a Balad official told the Jerusalem Post. “Netanyahu has been inciting against the Arab citizens for a long time and we consider him a big obstacle to the full integration of the Arabs. On the other hand, we’re hoping that a Gantz-led government would endorse a new and better policy toward the Arabs.”[4]

Balad issued a statement to justify its capitulation. It says:

“Balad took into consideration the position of our partners in the Joint List, as well as accomplishments that were obtained during the negotiations with Blue and White, first and foremost recognition of the principle of refraining from taking unilateral steps regarding the annexation of some areas of the West Bank and the status quo at the Aqsa Mosque.”[5]

Balad said that that Blue and White also promised to suspend demolition of illegal houses, to commit to a practical project (relying on the police) to combat violence and crime and an increase in public funds allocated to the Arab sector (which Likud does as well in order to create a larger Arab middle class that puts its own class interest above the workers and the poor peasant and above the repression the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza).

If Balad and the other Arab parties will be lucky Blue and White will not be the new government because such a government sooner or later will attack the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and the police will terrorize the Palestinians citizens of Israel.

Popular front in history

The politics of Hadash, Ta’al and the United Arab List that Balad leaders have endorsed is the politics of the class collaboration – a form of a popular front. Anyone who knows history is aware that this policy is leading to a terrible defeat for the exploited and the oppressed. This was the policy of the Stalinists in the 1930s during the economic crisis. It began in France in 1936 when a section of the capitalist class realized that they needed the collaboration of the reformist workers parties to prevent a socialist revolution. This led to the formation of the Blum’s government. At the beginning the working class in France celebrated believing that such government will improve the conditions of the masses.

The workers occupied factories to ensure that their demands were met: a forty-hour work week, higher wages, paid vacations, and union rights. Blum’s government imposed the Matignon Accords of June 7, granting across-the-board wage increases of 20 percent, two weeks paid vacation, collective bargaining rights, and the establishment of unemployment insurance. [6]

Instead of fighting for a socialist revolution, Maurice Thorez – the leader of the French Stalinist party – announced that, “It is important to know how to end a strike when satisfaction has been obtained.”

The bourgeoisie fought against the Matignon Accords. Capital fled the country, production dropped, unemployment rose, and the middle class that supported the government turned to the right. The hopes that had been raised turn into demoralization of the working class.

In July 1936, José Giral, the prime minister of the Popular Front government in Spain, requested aid against the military uprising led by Emilio Mola, Francisco Franco and José Sanjurjo. Blum agreed to send aircraft and artillery. However, after coming under pressure from Stanley Baldwin and Anthony Eden in Britain, and more right-wing members of his own cabinet, he changed his mind. Blum now called for all countries in Europe not to intervene in the Spanish Civil War.

Within one year all the gains of the working class in France vanished and by 1940, France was under the Vichy government of the pro Nazis Marshal Philippe Pétain.

In Spain during the civil war, the Stalinist party was a major power within the Popular Front. The government dissolved the workers militias, returned to the capitalists the factories the working class occupied and the lands the peasants took over were returned to the capitalists. All in the name that it is necessary to collaborated with the capitalists to prevent the victory of Franco. The republic had ruled Morocco and refused to grant independence to the colony. Thus Franco was able to recruit Moroccans soldiers. The actions of the Popular Front government led to demoralization of the masses and to the victory of Franco.

After the Nazis invaded the Stalinist Soviet Union, the Stalinist party of the USA pressured Roosevelt to enter the war against Germany and to show their loyally to US imperialism they broke strikes. After the war during the period of McCarthy and the trial of the Rosenberg’s family the working class did not defend the Stalinist party because of their role in breaking strikes during the war.

On April 9, 1952 a revolutionary wave spread in Bolivia hours, factory workers, and armed miners, defeated and destroyed the army of the ruling class. But instead of a victorious socialist revolution a popular front government of the MNR was established. Twelve years later in 1964 it ended with a military coup and the repressive dictatorship of Ovando and Barrientos.

The POR (a “Trotskyist “ organization that had a real influence on the working class) supported the MNR government which was a policy of a popular front. They acted in a similar way to the POUM in Spain in 1936-39 that was considered a “Trotskyist” organization which, however, Trotsky denounced as traitors to the socialist revolution.

In 1951, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike split from the UNP and formed the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). She came to power in 1956 on the program of making Sinhala the only official language discriminating against the large Tamil-speaking minority. The “Trotskyist “ Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP, Lanka Equal Society Party) that had a real influence among the workers and the Stalinist party formed an alliance with the SLFP, which came to power in 1970 and presided over the Republican Constitution of 1972 that deprived minorities of their rights. Several different Tamil parties were formed and demanded that the Northern and Eastern provinces become part of a federal state and when their demand was refused, Anti-Tamil riots led to the death and displacement of hundreds of Tamils. In 1977 the right wing UNP won the elections.

In Indonesia, in the early 1960s, Sukarno a left nationalist General relied on the Stalinist party in a period of sharp class struggle and that advocated some reform instead of a socialist revolution. This led to the coup of General Suharto in 1965 and the mass killing of more than half a million workers and poor peasants.

The popular front in Chile of the early 1970s ended with the coup of Pinochet and the mass killing of workers.

Thus the popular front policy has been proven to be a disaster for the working class and the oppressed.

Crisis of government in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis

But today and especially in Israel there is no revolutionary situation and the Arab Joined list is not a working class party some may argue.

However, collaboration with the class enemy is not only the policy of bourgeois workers parties but also of middle class and bourgeois parties of oppressed nations. This is the case with the parties of the Kurds in Syria and Iraq and the outcome is a defeat for the Kurds right to self -determination.

In the case of Israel the popular front policy led the Stalinist party to support the creation of the Zionist state and to the mass expulsion of the Palestinians in 1947-48 and to the support for the Rabin government as part of their support for the Oslo agreement. The Oslo agreement of 1993 was a cover up for the policy of expanding the Zionist settlements and to the rise of Netanyahu.

These days Israel is moving towards a huge crisis politically, economically and because of the hysteria over the corona. In this situation while the right-wing Zionists are moving further to the right, the center and the left Zionists are seeking to get the support of the Palestinian citizens of Israel in what is called in Israel the “center-left coalition”. They may be ready to promise some light reforms to the Palestinian citizens of Israel. However they need the support of the Arab Joined List in order to continue the role of Israel as the front line of the imperialists in the region, to continue the repression of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, to prevent the return of the Palestinian refugees and to act for the profits of the capitalist class.

The question of who will be the next Prime Minister is taking place during the hysteria over the Corona. Hysteria created by the Israeli government like other imperialist states to convince the workers the peasants, the poor and even the lower middle class that the economic crisis that began in 2019 is the result of the epidemic and not of the decaying capitalist system.

It is clear that Netanyahu is using the Corona epidemic for his own benefits and policies. His trial scheduled for March 17 has been postponed. He uses the epidemic to attack democratic rights. He announced that he will use the Security Service to spy on every one. The security service will send messages ordering self-quarantine to anyone who was in vicinity of an infected person in the 14 days prior to their diagnosis. In his televised speech on Saturday night, Netanyahu announced that Israel will use counterterrorism technologies to track coronavirus carriers.

The measures the government applies are not based on any of the lessons that can be learned from the different countries around the globe. In South Korea, the number of deaths is less than one percent because they have an effective health system. To give two indicator: According to the OECD’s report, South Korea has 9.5 hospital beds per 1000 people while Sweden’s 2.71, Canada’s 2.75, the UK’s 2.95, or the U.S. 3.05 beds. [7] In Israel there are 1.78 beds per 1,000 Israelis, down from 1.80 in 2017 and 2.69 in 1988. [8]

In Israel by March 13 there were 700 tests to be increased to 2000. [9] In South Korea “officials enacted a key reform, allowing the government to give near-instantaneous approval to testing systems in an emergency. Within weeks of the current outbreak in Wuhan, China, four Korean companies had manufactured tests from a World Health Organization recipe and, as a result, the country quickly had a system that could assess 10,000 people a day. Korea set up drive-through test stations, an approach only now being launched in the United States. Health officials initially focused their efforts on members of a secretive megachurch in Daegu with a branch in Wuhan, but they then broadened their reach to Seoul and other major cities. As of Saturday, South Korea had tested more than 248,000 people and identified 8,086 cases.[10]

The measures taken by the Israeli government are directed against the working class and the lower middle class: closing all education frameworks, places of entertainment, restaurants and gyms, people are working from home whenever possible (for those who still have jobs). It is still has to be seen what the government will do to enrich the banks and the large corporations – the capitalist monopolies.

So far we know that unemployed will receive unemployment payment but only after 30 days and we do not know how much. The small businesses are likely to suffer bankruptcies. Limiting indoor gatherings to 100 people will prevent any serious demonstrations against those draconian measures.

Program of Action

The Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine) stands for a revolutionary perspective. We consider Israel as a racist Apartheid state which emerged as a settler colony and later became an imperialist state. In our opinion, this state should be abolished and replaced by a single democratic state from the river to the sea. All Palestinian refugees should have the right to return to their homes and lands. Such a bi-national state with a Palestinian majority population and a Jewish minority should be a workers and poor peasants’ republic which expropriates the capitalist class. It should be part of a socialist federation of the Middle East.

However, we are aware that many progressive activists in Israel / Occupied Palestine do not agree with our program. Many believe that the only “realistic” perspective is a two state solution. While we do not share such an outlook, we suggest to those activists that they fight at least for the following program:

1. Expropriate all big business that is closing down under workers control

2. Expropriate all banks under workers control

3. Open all places of work to the Palestinian workers (from Israel and the 1967 occupied lands) and the guest workers

4. Cheap credit to all small business

5. Fully paid salaries to unemployed workers and public projects like roads, new hospitals, new schools, and new public housing under workers control

6. Immediate withdrawal from all 1967 occupied lands, remove the fence around Gaza and return the Golan to Syria

7. Public opinion poll among the Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and the refugees with the question do you prefer a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 or one democratic state from the river to the sea and act on it

8. End the provocations against Iran

9. End all discriminations against women, Palestinians, Ethiopians, Guest workers and refugees

However, Israel is not a country where you can imagine such a government and a worker’s party with such a program is a pie in the sky. Unless the Israeli workers and poor will break with Zionism they are helpless against the governments of the big capital Likud or the Blue and White.

Israel however is not a lonely island and the revolutionary process that will be deepen when the hysteria of the corona will be over and many workers and oppressed will understand what is behind the hysteria that is created by the governments.

Mean time as a world revolutionary tendency we must stand against the political pressure to support Popular Front governments and advance our revolutionary program that include reforms, transitional demands and propaganda for a socialist revolution and socialist transformation of society.


[2] Khaled Abu Toameh Why did Balad change its mind about Benny Gantz? – analysis Jerusalem post March 15, 2020

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid



[8] Ido Efrati Hospital Bed Availability In Israel At Lowest Since 1980s Haaretz 14/4/2019


[10] Stephen Engelberg, Lisa Song and Lydia DePillis , How South Korea Scaled Coronavirus Testing While the U.S. Fell Dangerously Behind Pro Publica March 15

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