PM Snubs Arab Joint List at Briefings of Opposition Leaders

Excluding Arab List chair Ayman Odeh from meetings with opposition party leaders – possibly in advance of inviting them to join the coalition – is seen as a rebuke.

Emil Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has excluded the chairman of the Joint Arab List, Knesset member Ayman Odeh, from security briefings with heads of the opposition parties this week.

Netanyahu was expected to meet Monday morning with Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid, and with opposition chairman and Zionist Union head MK Isaac Herzog, followed by meetings with the heads of Yisrael Beiteinu and Meretz – Avigdor Lieberman and Zehava Galon, respectively – in the presence of the prime minister’s military secretary.

According to sources who asked to remain anonymous, Netanyahu may raise the possibility during these meetings of bringing these opposition parties into the coalition.

Odeh’s snubbing was intentional: Netanyahu has denounced his party’s MKs for what the prime minister calls their contribution to fanning the flames of incitement in Israel’s Arab community in recent weeks, and apparently seeks to rebuke Odeh for cooperating with the head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Ra’ad Salah.

“I was not surprised at all that the prime minister chose not to invite me to a briefing with all the other opposition party leaders," Odeh said on Sunday in reponse.

"As he did on Election Day, Netanyahu continues to incite and to undermine the legitimacy of the country’s Arab citizens and especially the leadership, and tries to paint us as being responsible for the situation,” he said.

Odeh also called on Herzog “not to cooperate with Netanyahu’s racist policy,” adding: “We are the genuine opposition to Netanyahu. We offer a different way, one of just peace and of equality, of ending the occupation and of eliminating racism, of common struggle and of coexistence.”