A new Joint List MK on Saturday called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to the Arab community for his controversial comments on Election Day, in which he warned Likud supporters that Israeli Arabs were voting “in their droves.”
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New Joint List MK Dr. Yousef Jabareen, an attorney and expert in minority rights, was speaking at the first post-election meeting of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which also blasted Netanyahu for his statement.
Jabareen said Netanyahu’s statements constituted incitement toward Arab citizens, who were simply fulfilling their basic right to vote.
“The prime minister presents the vote of citizens who suffer from discrimination as a source of fear and worry? In a normal country, a prime minister would encourage all citizens to get out and vote,” said Jabareen.
“Could anyone imagine a European leader saying in a video clip that he was worried about high voter turnout among Jews in his country? Such a politician would not stay an hour in his job, and rightly so. However, in Israel it seems that anything goes and there is no limit to racist discourse,” added Jabareen.
“The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going in droves to the polls. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses,” said Netanyahu, in a video post on Election Day. “Go to the polls, bring your friends and family. Vote Mahal [Likud] to close the gap between us and Labor,” he added.
Members of the Joint List are scheduled to meet on Sunday with President Reuven Rivlin, as part of Rivlin’s consultations with the various Knesset factions on the formation of a new coalition. Netanyahu’s statements are expected to come up at the meeting, along with concerns that the new government will continue to infringe on the rights of Arab citizens and pass racist legislation. The Joint List received 13 seats in last Tuesday’s election.
MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of Zionist Union, also called on Netanyahu to apologize for his comments about the Arab community.
Meanwhile, a petition has been launched calling on Rivlin to refrain from appointing Netanyahu to form the new government. “As a person to whom the values of democracy and equality are dear, and for the sake of a state that respects all its citizens,” the petition states, Rivlin should not ask Netanyahu to form the government because “a black flag of incitement, separatism and hatred of the other flies over his election.”