Arab Knesset members are outraged over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision require
Israeli Arabs to perform military or national service as part of the Plesner Committee
On Thursday, Netanyahu announced that "Arab citizens, along with the haredim, must carry their equal share of the burden," shortly after the Yisrael Beiteinu
and Habayit Hayehudi
factions announced their decision to quit the Plesner Committee.
The Arab MKs consider the step as nothing short of a declaration of war. On Friday, the prime minister is set to meet with Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz
in an effort to finalize an agreement for the gradual integration of Arabs and haredim in the IDF and national service.
"We shall strongly resist, (Arab) youth will not obey mandatory national service," MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) told Netanyahu. "The attempt to force compulsory service on Arab youth is a declaration of war on the Arab sector."
Netanyahu and Lieberman. Political power struggle (Photo: Reuters)
MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List Ta'al) said: "We will not be made a part of the political power struggle between Lieberman and the prime minister. The Arabs should not be the victims of a Jewish war."
Tibi told Netanyahu, "Instead of an equal share of the burden let's talk about equality for all? Our people are asking why they don't have equal infrastructure, education, land allocation and employment."
Netanyahu replied, "That is solvable. The world and the country have changed and we all must share the burden."
Tibi slammed Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman: "Lieberman wants to conscript Arabs in Israel whom he considers a Fifth Column. Lieberman is lashing out at the Arabs again to escape his own conundrum as any nationalist does." He added that the Arab leadership supports volunteering but not conscription or mandatory national service.
'Arabs being pushed to civil revolt' (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Netanyahu also spoke to MK Mohammad Barakeh (Hadash) who told him, "You're calling me after Lieberman pressured you and threatened you with a crisis, this is not the behavior of a prime minister." He added that Arabs should enjoy unconditional equality.
Having recently confronted Lieberman, MK Talab el-Sana continued his attack on the foreign minister. "After Lieberman turned Israel into a worldwide leper, he is trying to destroy Israel's social fabric and enhance the gaps. Demanding mandatory Arab service will push Arabs into a civil revolt."
El-Sana called on Netanyahu to rein Lieberman in. "We will not allow the Arab public to be victimized by a political power struggle between the prime minister and his foreign minister. The conscription initiative is derived by massive hatred of haredim and Arabs which is driving Lieberman insane."
MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) did not spare any criticism of Netanyahu either. "Netanyahu is being pressured by Lieberman, we won't be pressured by Netanyahu. Arabs are not part of the ruling elite and those who enjoy the state's resources, they are being labeled as enemies, a cancer, a demographic and strategic threat."
She further added, "The proposed civil service will only serve to enhance this attitude, not change it. We will not serve a country that treats as subjects at best and a threat at worst. If an equal share of the burden is what they want, then let them reimburse taxes that are being collected with no reward, let them return houses that were razed and employ Arab workers.
"This state was founded upon on the destruction of our people. Equal share of the burden means compensating us for 60 years of injustice and alienation."
Sheikh Kamal Khatib, deputy head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch said: "The Islamic Movement will not accept the proposal to enlist Arabs into national service because it will pave the way for IDF service which we will not be part of."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report