Arab Mayors Say They Refused Netanyahu Meeting, Add 'Apology Is Not Enough'

The Committee of Heads of Arab Local Authorities criticize the prime minister over his Election Day remark, in which he warned his rule was in danger because 'Arabs are voting in droves.'

Jack Khoury
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an Arab representative, March 23, 2015.Credit: New Media Likud
Jack Khoury

Arab mayors on Wednesday said they rejected last week an overture made by mediatory forces to hold a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A statement published by the Committee of Heads of Arab Local Authorities said that they had refused to meet Netanyahu and that they reject his remark on Election Day, in which the prime minister urged voters to go to the polls because "the Arabs are voting in droves."

The committee's statement said that the Arab citizens who took part in a meeting with Netanyahu earlier this week, in which Netanyahu apologized, "do not represent Israeli Arabs and their official institutions."

According to sources in the committee, the day after the elections they were approached by Haim Bibas, the chairman of the Union of Local Authorities who is considered close to Netanyahu, who offered to set up a meeting between Netanyahu and all of Israel's heads of Arab local authorities. The committee rejected the offer, they said, because it was not clear what the purpose of the meeting was.

"There is no problem sitting with the prime minister and other cabinet members in an official meeting, but only after the government is formed," they said.

The statement, signed by 63 Arab heads of local authorities, said that the committee does not rule out a meeting between panel members and Netanyahu after the formation of a government, but noted that the Arab population in Israel does not accept the prime minister's apology. It stressed that words were not enough and that they expect a change in policy.

On Election Day, Netanyahu urged his supported to go and vote, saying that his rule was in danger because "the Arab are voting in droves." His comments drew harsh criticism in Israel and abroad.

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