Opinion |

Bibi Is Good for the Arabs

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset.
Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

Jaws dropped and ears perked up. And the heavens began to fall. David Amsalem, the pillar of fire who goes before his creator, Benjamin Netanyahu, dropped a bombshell that threatened to obliterate Likud and rip its masters to shreds.

Amsalem, who speaks from the heart, a guide to the perplexed who always tells it like it is and doesn’t settle scores, shot between the eyes again. On Channel 12’s morning show he said the United Arab List, that Arab party and terrorism supporter, that representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose entire aim is the destruction of Israel, could be a coalition partner if Likud and its partners obtain a majority in the next election.

The panic that gripped Netanyahu, who in a flash squelched such dangerous talk even at the cost of offending Amsalem, only proves the magnitude of the threat.

Amsalem didn’t invent anything, nor was this a cry from the heart. He heard such things “at home,” from Bibi and his circle. Amsalem is very familiar with the negotiations of Netanyahu’s agents with UAL chair Mansour Abbas and his partners before, during and after previous elections. He knows what was promised to the party and on what conditions, and wasn’t offering anything that wasn’t acceptable at the time to his master.

On the contrary, Amsalem even set a tougher condition: that a non-Zionist Arab party could only join a future coalition if Likud and its Jewish partners already had a majority of Knesset seats. In other words, a right-wing purely Jewish government would have to stand on its own two feet before agreeing to welcome in other races. Netanyahu did not impose such a limitation.

The difficulty in Amsalem’s remarks lies in the question of why Likud would wish to add an Arab party to the coalition if it already had at least 61 Jewish lawmakers at its command. Such a government, after all, would be able to destroy the democratic structure, shatter the justice system, enact new race laws and break the bones of the left wing even without the assistance of Arab subcontractors, who would only weigh them down.

The answer is that Amsalem is presumably fantasizing that the Arabs – those traditional allies of the left who laid the foundations for the outgoing “government of treason” – would now join forces with the extreme right to destroy the haters of Likud, and all of this without having to paying them anything.

After all, anyone who joins a Jewish coalition that already has a majority in the Knesset cannot impose conditions or make demands the way that they can when the government’s existence depends on them. Amsalem well understood Bibi’s doctrine that ideology cannot stand in the way when destruction is necessary.

Attention to nuance is therefore important. Amsalem spoke out against all of the non-Zionist parties, which should not be allowed to join the coalition if their support was critical to its formation. (Did he mean the Haredi ones as well?) But Netanyahu and Religious Zionism party chair Bezalel Smotrich directed their attacks solely against the United Arab List.

“The United Arab List is an antisemitic, anti-Zionist party that supports terrorism,” Netanyahu said. “Likud under my leadership has never and will never agree to bring the UAL into any kind of coalition.” He made no mention, however, of the Joint List, an electoral alliance of predominantly Arab parties.

Was he leaving the door open for an Arab party in the event that he did not secure 61 seats? After all, the Joint List is also not a Zionist party and its members are also associated with the “terrorism supporters” bloc, judging by the scathing criticism of them in the Knesset and in media interviews.

Bibi seems to be proving to be a much more flexible and generous politician toward the Arabs. After all, he was willing to lean on Arab crutches so that he could be prime minister.

It’s not taking a risk to predict that if Bibi is short a single Knesset seat, he would crawl into the tent of an Arab “terror supporter” who is willing to receive him. Perhaps this time it won’t be with the United Arab List but rather with other Arabs, ones who are not tainted by the outgoing “government of change,” since the Arabs are the same Arabs, to quote the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. Just have them come in droves in the right direction and Bibi’s home is wide open.

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