The Likud-Beiteinu list is continuing to struggle at framing itself both as the moderate leadership party and one that will attract far-right voters en masse today, with the announcement by the Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development of the Jewish-Arab Equality covenant.
The pact, which has already been endorsed by Labor, Yesh Atid, Kadima and Meretz, promises the parties will pursue equal participation in society and equality under the law for all Israelis, regardless if they are Jews or Arabs. Likud-Beiteinu has rejected the pact and refused to sign.
Several parties on the far-right have simply ignored the request, and Likud-Beiteinu was joined only by UTJ in openly rejecting the pact on general principle. Other center-left parties are also believed to be planning to sign when given the opportunity.
Such equality under the law is a total anathema to some religious right parties, but with Israel’s ruling parties traditionally framing their society at least nominally as “equal” to the international community the pact puts Likud-Beiteinu in an unusual and difficult position.
The combined list clearly includes a number of members who would be ideologically opposed to treating Israeli Arabs as equal members of society on general principle, but the bigger problem is that signing the pact for international appearance’s sake might conceivably push the list further into the center in the minds of far-right voters, a dangerous place to be with Likud-Beiteinu continuing to lose seats in recent polls to the ultra-far-right parties like Jewish Home, which have attacked Likud as dangerously “soft” on Arabs.