“A minority government supported by Arab parties is a danger to this country”, tweeted Netanyahu four hours before the IDF launched the missile that killed Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata.
A few weeks earlier, MK Shlomo Karhi (Likud) proposed a new bill that would preclude Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh from being head of the opposition in case a unity government was formed. If such a government were established, said Karhi, Odeh could attain that role according to the prevailing law, and then, God forbid, he would be entitled to receive security briefings from the prime minister, as well as have the right to speak in the Knesset every time the prime minister did. “Ongoing security briefings to supporters of terror and such an unthinkable situation are out of the question,” determined the combative legislator.
It seems that the Likud party’s position is clear: Members of the Joint List are unworthy of being in the coalition, and not really in the opposition either. This is not new. Even before the last election, Likud joined an appeal by the racist Otzma Yehudit party against the Central Election Committee’s decision to allow the Joint List to run. Likud does not deem Arab society worthy of being partners in a government, nor does it want its representatives in the coalition or at the head of the opposition.
For Netanyahu and his associates, Israel’s Arab citizens are not really citizens, they are more like subjects. They occasionally show concern for these subjects, transferring funds and creating five-year plans; after all, even subjects deserve something, but they can’t be given any positions in which they wield some actual influence. They can’t be allowed to feel that they’re really part of this country. Under Netanyahu, one of Likud’s central tenet is to resist any attempt by Arab citizens to integrate into Israeli society as full-fledged members with equal rights.
The argument used against Arab parties was always that “they only care about the [West Bank] Palestinians.” But when it turns out that these same legislators mobilize for the benefit of Arab society in Israel, wishing to assume positions in which they can do something, Netanyahu is alarmed. As soon as they no longer make do with being what was defined in the past as “present-absentees” in this country’s political system, but strive to really have some impact, they become a “danger to this country” or “supporters of terror.” One should note that these are the same Arab Knesset members whose support Netanyahu solicited when he wanted to dissolve the 21st Knesset.
It’s time to state clearly: Likud is a racist party, a party that sought to disqualify a list that represents most Arab citizens of this country from running in the election, a party that’s doing everything it can to incite against Arab society and its representatives.
In that sense, Netanyahu these days is more dangerous than Meir Kahane in the 1980s. Then, racist and hateful talk came from a marginal figure, whereas today the words are not that dissimilar, but they issue forth from the mouth of a prime minister. Israel’s prime minister is waging a campaign of incitement against one fifth of the country’s population and their elected representatives.
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On Saturday, Netanyahu yet again repeated his incitement against the possibility of forming a government supported by Arab parties. Therefore, anyone who wishes to see an equitable integration of Arab citizens into Israeli society must do everything to end his rule, and definitely not lend a hand to its extension.