The Arab politicians running on Joint List will not join the governing coalition, even if asked, "as long as the occupation continues," MK Ahmad Tibi, formerly an MK for United Arab List-Ta'al and now No. 4 on Joint List, told Haaretz on Monday.
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"Because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the continuing occupation, the situation is not ripe for us to join the government," said Tibi. "Because being in the government means taking collective responsibility for the actions of the government and its decisions."
"If I am a member of a government that bombs Gaza, even if I oppose it, I will be responsible. If I am a member of a government that continues to support the settlements even if I oppose it, I will have collective responsibility," said Tibi. "Therefore, as long as the occupation continues, we will not sit in the government. Unless its principles were similar to those of Joint List, but that's a utopia."
Tibi also said he thinks it would be better for the next Israeli government to be openly right-wing than for right-wing policy to continue while representatives of the center – whom he explicitly described as Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni – "explain it to the world."
"Herzog and Livni's objectives in a unity government will be to defend the government's actions to the public in a cosmetic way, as well as to the international community," said Tibi. "A right-wing government will be the true face of Israeli policy in everything connected to peace, equality and settlements. Thus international pressure on the government to change its policy and end the occupation will not let up."
Tibi also said that if Israel wants to define itself as a democracy, it should compare itself to Western democracies rather than saying Israel's Arab citizens are better off than Arabs living in totalitarian regimes.
"The reference group of one who claims to be a democracy should be France, Belgium, Canada, the U.S. and the like," said Tibi. "And then I’m ready for a comparison and its results."