Blue and White rejects Joint Arab List participation in future coalition
MK from opposition party says Joint List must first accept Israel as Jewish and democratic after Odeh lists own conditions for supporting a center-left government under Benny Gantz, including better conditions for his electorate, renewing peace process
The comment came after Joint List leader Ayman Odeh said his party would consider joining a center-left coalition if his terms were met.
Blue and White MK Asaf Zamir told Ynet on Thursday that there is no possibility for cooperation with Odeh's party, which is a union of Arab political factions in Israel and represents the majority of the sector's voters. Some 20 percent of the Israeli population are from the Arab community.
In an interview Wednesday with Ynet's sister publication Yedioth Ahronot, Odeh said he would consider his party's participation in a center-left coalition if Arabs were accepted as equal partners.
He also laid out conditions for such a union:
• Renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the abolition of the Nation-State Law, which he said contradicted the principle of equal right for all citizens of Israel
• Ending house demolitions in the Arab sector and advancing construction in Arab communuities, as well as building a new city to meet the needs of the Israeli Arab population
• Improving Israeli Arabs' access to social services including construction of a new hospital in one of the Arab cities
• Returning land confiscated from Arab towns and villages for the benefit of Jewish farming communities
• Effective policing in Arab towns that are plagued by high crime and an abundance of weapons in the hands of criminals
"We will be partners in a government only if Arab citizens of Israel are no longer considered second class," Odeh said, noting that there was small chance that any of his demands would be met.
Odeh's comments prompted a negative reaction from across the political sphere, including from his own party, where one faction leader called the interview "unfortunate."
Almost half of all Arab voters stayed away from the ballot in the elections held in April 2019.
Odeh said if all Arab citizens eligible to vote were to exercise their right, the Israeli political landscape would change entirely.
Arab parties participated in coalitions until the turn of the millennium, although they did not take part in any of the governments.
A strong Joint List is considered likely to increase Blue and White's chances of forming a coalition government after the September vote, either as they join the coalition or at the very least support it from the opposition.
Blue and White has been campaigning in the Arab sector and cooperating with Odeh on opposition to the policies advanced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government.
Party chief Benny Gantz scolded the prime minister for his denouncement of Arab MKs, saying Arab citizens had as much legitimacy as any other Israelis.