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The Arab bloc is divided ahead of the elections in Israel

The Arab party bloc broke up before Israel’s fifth election in less than four years, which could weaken the political influence of the minority and help former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu return to power.

Israeli media reported late Thursday that the nationalist Balad party would be operating separately from the other two parties on the Joint List. If he does not reach the minimum threshold, Balad will not enter the next parliament and his votes will basically be wasted.

Disunity may also lower the overall attendance among the Israeli Arab minority, which makes up 20% of the Israeli population.

Arab parties helped prevent Netanyahu from returning to power in the recent elections. The fourth Arab party, the Islamic Ra’am, also broke off the Joint List and made history last year by joining the ruling coalition, the first Arab faction.

Israeli Arab citizens have close family ties to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and largely identify with their cause, leaving many Jewish Israelis to be suspicious of them. Arab citizens have made great strides in medicine and other fields in recent decades, but still face widespread discrimination.

The November 1 elections, like the last four, are expected to be a fierce race between former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is being tried for corruption, and a constellation of parties across the political spectrum who feel unfit for the rule.

The elections in Israel are contests between many political parties, none of which has ever won a clear majority. Future prime ministers must form coalitions with at least 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

The division of the Common List appears to be benefiting Netanyahu by weakening the influence of his most staunch opponents.

But without hardliner Balad, the other two parties may be more open to joining a coalition led by current interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid, a center-left politician and Netanyahu’s main opponent. However, it is unclear whether Lapida’s potential right-wing allies would accept such an alliance.

Recent polls predict a fierce race between Netanyahu and Lapid, with each political camp vying to assemble a majority. If both fail, the country will go to the elections again.

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