Every Israeli Government Must Have an Arab Minister, Democratic Union Candidate Says

Yair Golan argues for cooperation with Arab-majority parties ■ Lieberman says not ruling out agreement to share premiership with another party, but not with Netanyahu

Yair Golan speaks at a press conference in the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv, July 2, 2019
\ Moti Milrod

A former deputy army chief who is running on the Democratic Union slate in September's election said on Saturday that every government must have an Arab minister, arguing for cooperation with the Joint List alliance of four Arab-led parties.

Yair Golan said that Arab politicians should also state that they are willing to be part of a governing coalition. "This has not yet been said," Golan said. "We must say, and we are saying it, that we view cooperation positively. [We] view a situation in which there is an Arab minister positively."

Arab-majority parties have traditionally refused to join any Israeli government, while most Jewish party leaders have ruled out joining forces with them in a governing coalition.

Some Israeli Arabs are represented in Jewish-majority parties. Likud's Ayoub Kara, a Druze politician, served until late June as Israel's communications minister.

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Also Saturday, Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said that he was not ruling out a rotation agreement that would entail him sharing the premiership with another party's leader after September's election. Lieberman later issued a clarification saying that "there is no option for a rotation agreement with [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu; the entire effort is to form a broad, patriotic, liberal government. Who the prime minister will be is much less interesting."

Avigdor Lieberman at a Yisrael Beiteinu press conference, June 8, 2019.
\ Moti Milrod

The election in September will be Israel's second this year, after Lieberman's refusal to join a Netanyahu-led government that includes ultra-Orthodox parties led to the prime minister failing to form a governing coalition. That failure, the first of its kind in Israeli history, has prompted parties to forge alliances and run together.

While most of the parties' lists have remained mostly the same between the two elections, there have been some notable surprises: Ehud Barak's return to politics and merger with Meretz and Labor's Stav Shaffir, Labor's union with the center-right Gesher party and the Kahanist party Otzma Yehudit deciding to run alone, among others. 

A Channel 13 poll published Thursday showed Kahol Lavan, the party led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid that is seen as the main rival to Netanyahu's Likud, winning a projected 29 seats in the election – one less than Likud. Yisrael Beiteinu would receive 11 seats, according to the poll, with the Joint List and the United Right alliance of right-wing parties receiving 11 each as well. The Democratic Union was predicted to receive nine seats, according to the poll.