Israeli Arab lawmaker calls Gaza flare-up 'terrorist act'

Joint List's Sami Abu Shehadeh says Palestinians in Gaza no different than Arab Israeli citizens, citing blood ties between both populations; rules out reunion with Ra'am despite claiming sector wants intra-Arab unity

Moran Azulay, Attila Somfalvi|
Sami Abu Shehadeh, a lawmaker for the predominately Arab Joint List, on Tuesday slammed Israel's latest military campaign in the Gaza Strip and equated it to terrorism.
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  • "The occupation, which has been going on for decades, is an act of terror, and in order to perpetuate it, more terrorist acts must be carried out constantly," Abu Shehadeh told Ynet.
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    סמי אבו שחאדה
    סמי אבו שחאדה
    Sami Abu Shehadeh
    (Photo: Kobi Koankes)
    "The Palestinian people in Jaffa are the same as the people in Gaza. When the country shells homes in the Gaza Strip, it shells the families of Israeli citizens."
    Abu Shehadeh also rejected potential offers by Israeli officials for economic relief for Gaza in exchange for complete demilitarization of the Palestinian enclave like the one suggested by Prime Minister Yair Lapid last year.
    "There is arrogance in this idea and a basic lack of understanding of the conflict," Abu Shehadeh said.
    "This reduces the Palestinian struggle for national rights and for an independent state to a struggle for a job opportunity in Israel."
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    סמי אבו שחאדה מנסור עבאס
    סמי אבו שחאדה מנסור עבאס
    Sami Abu Shehadeh and Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas
    (Photo: Joint List, Sharon Tzur)
    He also said he is expecting high voter turnout in the Arab sector Ra'am became the first Arab party to join an Israeli coalition government last year.
    "Immediately after the last elections, we did some soul-searching and came to the conclusion that voter turnout decreased because, among other things, the Arab sector wanted unity," Abu Shehadeh said while ruling out reuniting with Ra'am after the two parties split before last year's polls.
    When asked about his preferred candidate for prime minister, the Joint List lawmaker said he would not vouch for anyone who does not "believe in collaboration and equality."
    "We won't recommend Lapid, so that he won't commit more crimes like those he committed in Gaza. If a government that opposes the occupation is established, we'll be for it. We never were and never will be part of any government that occupies our nation," he stated.
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    כנס פתיחת קמפיין הבחירות של יש עתיד
    כנס פתיחת קמפיין הבחירות של יש עתיד
    Prime Minister Yair Lapid
    (Photo: AFP)
    Abu Shehadeh also rejected claims all Israeli Jews were occupying the Palestinian people, deeming such generalization as "antisemitic."
    "I don't think all Jews support the occupation, there are moral people among them. I'm appealing to the public in Israel — anyone who supports the occupation and blockade on Gaza, and thinks that Jews deserve more because they are the chosen people — don't vote for us."
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