Top Kahol Lavan Lawmaker Says He's Not Against Coalition With an Arab Minister

Moshe Ya'alon says minister would have to recognize Israel as a Jewish and democratic state after Israeli Arab leader says willing to sit in center-left coalition

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Ya'alon speaks during a press conference, April, 2019.
Ya'alon speaks during a press conference, April, 2019. Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

Moshe Ya’alon, the former defense minister who is third on the Kahol Lavan party's election slate, said on Friday that he isn't opposed to the idea of being part of a government with an Arab minister.

In an interview with Army Radio, Ya'alon said that "I'm not against having an Arab minister [in the government] as long as that minister recognizes Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."

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According to Ya'alon, "It's not the case with Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh and his slate members, especially with the Arab Balad party."

"We call on Israel's Arabs who recognize Israel as a Jewish and democratic state to join us. We are not excluding the Arabs, but unfortunately the Arab parties - and I hear it from Israeli Arabs as well - do not represent them," Ya'alon said.

"The Arab parties don't condemn Hamas, but rather Israel Defense Forces soldiers. As long as the Arab parties don’t recognize Israel as Jewish and democratic we cannot hold a dialogue, and certainly not form a coalition with them," he added.  

Ya'alon made his remarks in reference to Odeh's statement that he is prepared to recommend that Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz form a government, and that the united slate of Arab parties would be willing to join a center-left coalition.

In an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Thursday, Odeh presented a list of demands with regard to the Arab public and the political process. If Kahol Lavan accepts these terms, it would prepare the grounds for the Arab party to join the government, for the first time in Israeli history.

Odeh's terms for joining are centered on four issues: Urban planning and building, violence, welfare and policy. He is requesting, among other things, freezing private home demolitions in the West Bank, repealing a law that dispenses harsher punishments for building infractions and the construction of a new Arab city.