Israel's Joint Arab List Fails to Agree on Statement on Temple Mount Attack

Arab nationalist party Balad and leftist Arab-Jewish party Hadash clash over who is responsible for the killing of two Druze policemen by three Israeli Arabs

The Joint Arab List,  from left: Dov Khenin, Ahmed Tibi, Ayman Oudeh, Jamal Zahalka and  Basel Ghattas.
Gil Eliahu

Knesset members from the Joint List of Arab parties have failed to agree on a statement following Friday’s attack at the Temple Mount in which three Israeli Arabs killed two police officers from the Druze Arab community.

The four parties in the Joint List issued separate statements over the weekend; the disagreement was over the extent to which the attack should be condemned and who should be held responsible.

Joint List sources said there was particular disagreement between the left-wing Arab-Jewish party Hadash and the left-wing Arab nationalist party Balad.

Balad issued a statement Saturday blaming the government for creating a situation that led to the attack. MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) said a joint statement would ultimately be released.

Several Joint List members called on young Arabs to refrain from violence.
Members of Israel’s Druze community roundly criticized the Joint List, saying the statements from its four parties did not really reflect condemnation of the attack in which police officers Hael Sathawi and Kamil Shnaan were killed. The three assailants were also killed.

Slain police officers Kamil Shnan (left) and Hael Sathawi against the backdrop of a forensic team surrounding the body of an assailant on the Temple Mount, July 14, 2017.
THOMAS COEX/AFP and Israel Police

“The Arab community in Israel has, since the establishment of the state, adopted a path of political struggle based on public, civilian and nonviolent means,” said MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash).

Jabareen is a resident of Umm al-Fahm and a member of the Jabareen clan to which the three assailants belonged. The three assailants — Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed Jabareen, Mohammed Hamed Abd Al-Latif Jabareen, and Mohammed Ahmed Mafdal Jabareen — were also from Umm al-Fahm.

Jabareen called on young Israeli Arabs to maintain what he called “the popular-public character of our struggle.”

MKs Ahmad Tibi and Osama Saadia (Ta’al) said the leaders of the country’s Arab community have always opposed the use of arms. “We reject violence of any kind, including at holy places,” they said in a statement.

They said the struggle was a nonviolent one against the occupation and  discrimination against Israeli Arabs. “The occupation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy places is the root” of the problem and must be ended “to spare lives on all sides,” they said.

They also accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and right-wing MKs of exploiting Friday’s attack to incite against the Israeli Arab community, particularly against Umm al-Fahm.

Three members of the Joint List’s Ra’am party — Masud Ganaim, Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya and Talab Abu Arar — said the Al-Aqsa Mosque is “a holy place for Muslims alone and Israel must respect that and not let Jews, settlers and messianic inciters enter it and harm its sanctity.”

MK Esawi Freige (Meretz), a member of the Israeli Arab community, said of the attack: “There is no way to describe the horror or even try to understand it.”