Jewish Progressive Groups Beseech Gantz to Include Arab Lawmakers in Government Bid

'It is time for a government that puts aside the vicious attacks against minority groups and embraces an ethic of inclusion,' a coalition of 20 organizations write

Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz, Tel Aviv, Israel, March 7, 2020
Sebastian Scheiner,AP

Leaders of progressive Jewish organizations around the world have urged Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz to form a government that includes the Arab-led Joint List.

In a letter sent to the prime ministerial hopeful on Wednesday, leaders of nearly 20 left-wing Zionist organizations wrote that if he chose this path, “we will be there every step of the way to support you.” 

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“We have been appalled by the attempted exclusion from the political sphere of the Joint List, which, in the main, is supported by Arab citizens of Israel, and has every right to play a proportional and legitimate role in the national democratic process,” they wrote. “It is time for a government that puts aside the vicious attacks against minority groups in Israel and instead embraces an ethic of inclusion, dialogue and respect for all citizens and parties.”

Among those who signed the letter were the leaders of J Street and T’ruah in the United States, JSpaceCanada, the Jewish Democratic Initiative in South Africa and Friends of Hashomer Hatzair in the UK.

The letter did not specify whether Gantz should include the Joint List – which won 15 out of 120 Knesset seats in the election – in his government or have  it support his government from outside, which is considered to be a far more feasible, though still not very probable, option. 

A majority of 61 Knesset members, among them all 15 members of the Joint List, recommended to President Reuven Rivlin that Gantz form the next government. The Kachol-Lavan leader received a mandate from the president to do so 11 days ago, and he has 28 days to try. 

The Jewish leaders signed on the letter applauded Gantz for his pledge “to defeat the ‘hate and divisiveness’ in Israeli society” and urged him to form a government “that reflects the values of civic equality, tolerance and peace.”