Netanyahu Is Helpless in the Face of Palestinian Solidarity

Billions allotted to the community won’t reduce its solidarity with the knife intifada and resistance to a Jewish state’s existence.

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Israeli Arabs march in Shfaram, August 4, 2015.Credit: Rami Shllush

The so-called suspension bill, which lets the Knesset expel lawmakers if 90 of the 120 MKs vote for it, reflects the helplessness of its sponsor, Benjamin Netanyahu. This comes against the background of the Israeli Palestinians’ and especially their Knesset envoys’ growing solidarity with terror and its declared goals — destroying Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The prime minister must understand that the solidarity stems from the depth of the Arab soul and no law will stop it. MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List, is seen as a moderate politician. This moderate leader said this week that ministers and Knesset members who fought terror in the past are murderers.

In his moderate heat of emotions he revealed that the Joint List doesn’t suffice with striving for equal civil rights and cultural autonomy. The party now aspires to a total upheaval; in his words, something much, much bigger.

Odeh said this on Channel 2. The interviewer, Oded Ben Ami, recommended that he retract his allegation that murderers were sitting in the Knesset (Odeh firmly refused). The veteran broadcaster didn’t dare delve into the main part of Odeh’s declaration, the radical political statement that the Israeli Palestinians seek much more than just equal rights. One can’t suspect Ben Ami of not understanding Odeh’s statement.

The declaration, which is no less than an earthquake — especially for those striving for Jewish-Arab coexistence in the Jewish nation-state — passed quietly. Why? Because those who believe in coexistence also are those who still decide on what to make a fuss over and what to ignore.

And they choose to bury their heads in the sand. If they dare look at reality they’ll find that their naive belief that Israel’s Arabs have given up aspirations of sovereignty in Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria is shattering before their eyes.

Intimidation via laws may oppress public displays of solidarity with terror but won’t change people’s deep feelings. Such laws are like giving painkillers to someone suffering from a serious illness. When the pain subsides, the patient tends to neglect the necessary treatment. Diseases of a national character must also be treated with the right medicine, at the right time, lest the state structure collapse.

This is the scope of the rift the Arab MKs are showing the public. No painkilling law will heal the serious illness that is ripping apart the fabric between Jews and Arabs in Israel, despite the concealment and deliberate denial of the seriousness of the disease.

The Israeli Palestinians may slide — and I hope I’m proven wrong — from verbal solidarity to actual acts of hostility. Odeh’s statement shows that the psychological barriers have been lifted. The 15 billion shekels ($3.86 billion) earmarked, justifiably, to improving the Arab community’s conditions are like a painkiller, while the problem of solidarity with terror must receive root canal.

The Arab community sees the allocation as a belated, insufficient step to do justice in civil affairs, but not as a reason to change its deep national feelings. The billions won’t reduce the Arabs’ solidarity with terror and their resistance to a Jewish state’s existence.

These are the huge dimensions of the problem Israel faces today. But due to an ironic combination of interests between the government and coexistence groups, neither side admits to the seriousness of the situation and isn’t looking for a way — if such a way still exists — to prevent the verbal solidarity with terror turning into violent solidarity, like the knife intifada in Judea and Samaria.