Formed in the mid-1990’s by Dr. Ahmed Tibi, Ta’al hoped to serve as a united party for all Arabs but only became registered as a legitimate political party in 1996 after seven failed attempts. Ta’al’s philosophy centers around the desire to see Israel’s Arabs recognized as a national minority with equal civil rights, and for Israel to nullify laws that give Jews preference in national life. The party also supports the creation of a Palestinian state and a just solution to the Palestinian refugee issue.
Ta’al eventually dropped out right before the 1996 elections and instead formed a coalition with Hadash, an Israeli Arab party. Tibi eventually left Hadash and joined Balad, another Israeli Arab party, for the 1999 elections, from which he won a seat in the Knesset. In December 1999, Tibi split with Balad and reconstituted himself as his own party.
For the 2003 elections, Ta’al again combined with Hadash and the coalition won enough votes for Tibi to keep his parliamentary seat. In 2006, Tibi left Hadash again and joined with the United Arab List (Ra’am) for the 2006 elections. Again, the coalition won enough seats for Tibi to retain his seat in the government.
In January 2009, the Israeli Central Elections Committee banned Ta’al, Ra’am, and Balad from running in the elections, accusing them of incitement, supporting terrorist groups and refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The Supreme Court subsequently revoked the ban allowing the party to stand in the elections. Following their appeal, Ra’am-Ta’al was kept for the 2009 election and it garnered enough votes for four seats, splitting 3 and 1 with Tibi again keeping his seat.
In the January 2013 elections, running on a joint ticket with Ra’am once again, Ta’al was awarded one seat from the five won by the party overall.
Balad, Ra’am, Hadash and Ta’al signed an agreement on January 21, 2015, to run on a single ticket – the Joint Arab List – headed by Hadash leader Ayman Odeh. The decision of the often fractious parties to unite was prompted by a change in the election law raising the threshold for representation from 2 percent to 3.25 percent, which would have made it difficult for the smaller individual parties to win seats. In that election, the list won 13 seats, making it the third largest party in the 20th Knesset.
After the poor showing of the two Arab slates in the April 2019 election, the four Arab parties decided to reunite as a Joint List, hoping to increase the 13 seats it won in 2015. One key to success will be Arab voter turnout, which dropped from 63 percent to 50 percent. Ayman Odeh will top the list.
Sources: “Political Parties and Platforms.” Chapter Two. Democracy In Action; “The Israeli Elections and the Middle East Peace Process.” by Emad Gad at ACPSS Publications;
Moment Magazine, (January 2012);
Israel Democracy Institute;
TA’AL | 2013 Israel Elections Parties;
Allison Kaplan Sommer, “Israel’s Do-over Election: A Guide to All the Parties and Who Holds the Keys to the Next Government,” Haaretz, (July 31, 2019).