Netanyahu's Pledge to Combat Violence in Arab Community Met With Skepticism

The prime minister responded to weekend protests in the Arab community, saying he had agreed to allocate additional manpower and increase enforcement

Netanyahu at a Likud party meeting, October 3, 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded Sunday to the weekend protests in Arab communities by saying that he condemns violence and “we must all act responsibly and cooperatively” to combat it.

He added he has agreed with the police and the Public Security Ministry on allocating additional manpower and increasing enforcement. The protests were over the rising crime rate in the Arab community and what protesters view as the police’s inadequate response. But members of the predominantly-Arab Joint List responded to Netanyahu’s remarks with skepticism and criticism.

>> Read more: Eliminating violence in the Israeli Arab community is in everyone's interest | Ayman Odeh

Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh said in a video that “the test of these statements will be a cabinet resolution on a systematic plan for fighting violence and crime that will start being implemented immediately.

Thousands protest Israel's failure to address violence in the Arab community, Umm al-Fahm, October 5, 2019.
Amir Levy

“It’s inconceivable that 20 percent of the public should have to break the rules and block roads for the government to start addressing a problem that has been claiming innocent lives for many years,” he added.

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu issued a statement saying that in discussions with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and acting Police Commissioner Motti Cohen, “It was agreed to allocate additional forces and to increase enforcement in order to continue the struggle against violence. Prime Minister Netanyahu calls on the Arab sector leadership to act responsibly and cooperate with the authorities in order to bring about a substantive change in the situation. He also calls on the public to refrain from violence of any kind in the context of protest action.”

Joint List MKs Ofer Cassif and Mtanes Shehadeh also criticized Netanyahu. “This is criminal negligence by the right-wing government,” Cassif wrote on Twitter account. Shehadeh tweeted, “The prime minister takes action and responds only under pressure when it comes to the needs of the Arab community.”