MK Yoni Chetboun (Habayit Hayehudi) said on Friday that he opposes the demand of Yisrael Beiteinu leader and former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who called on Arabs to be drafted to the Israel Defense Forces, and said that if he were ultra-Orthodox he would be "embarrassed" to be compared to Arabs.
In an interview to the Al-Monitor website, the member of the party headed by Naftali Bennett said, "I don't want an Arab in IDF uniform If I were an ultra-Orthodox Jew, I would be embarrassed to be compared to an Arab. What does it say when you compare an ultra-Orthodox, who is a Jewish Israeli civilian living here in the state, to an Arab with a totally different narrative, who views the army as an occupying power?"
Chetboun added, "I can negotiate and argue with the ultra-Orthodox because they are members of my nation. On that issue I am not embarrassed to say it; regarding the attitude to the army and the state, I have an ideological argument with them. But I don't have expectations of the Arabs. I don't want an Arab in uniform. His entire worldview is that the IDF is the army that occupies Palestine. That's not appropriate for the army."
Chetboun said he supports national service for Arabs in their own communities, but doesn't believe they should serve the Jewish population. "If we are talking about service that assists within their own population, then I say: go ahead. After all, they have tremendous welfare problems. I walked around East Jerusalem last week, they are really crying out for more welfare aid. I don't want to force them on us. I don't want an Arab to feel that I am taking him by force to be in some school in Nahariya that educates their kids about [Theodor] Herzl."
Chetboun, 34, was elected in 11th place in the Habayit Hayehudi primaries ahead of Israel's elections to the 19th Knesset. He is a major in the IDF reserves, and received the Chief of Staff's Citation for his role in the Second Lebanon War. He was head of an NGO for young religious Zionists.