Arab MK accidently reveals Netanyahu overtures to Joint List
Believing he is speaking to PM during prank call by radio station, Abd Al Hakeem Haj Yahya confirms Likud reached out to his party after April elections for assistance in legislation to dissolve Knesset and hold second round of elections in six months
A Joint List MK inadvertently revealed Monday that Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu's Likud party had reached out to the predominantly Arab party after the April 2019 elections.
In what was supposed to be a prank call, local Jerusalem radio host Menachem Toker phoned Abd Al Hakeem Haj Yahya for a live interview and connected him to a Netanyahu impersonator to discuss Likud overtures towards the predominantly Arab faction.
Believing he was talking to the real prime minister, Haj Yahya revealed that Netanyahu emissaries Natan Eshel and Likud MK Miki Zohar had both approached him in the wake of the April elections.
Despite denials from both sides, the Knesset member let it be known that his Balad faction was approached in order to enlist support for Netanyahu's efforts to dissolve the newly elected Knesset after he failed to form a right-wing religious coalition.
With the votes from the Joint List, however, Netanyahu was able to pass a law dissolving the Knesset and call for the snap elections that were held earlier this month.
Netanyahu has been repeatedly criticized for anti-Arab rhetoric during the 2015 and both 2019 election campaigns.
Haj Yahya, on live radio in what he thought was a three-way conversation with the prime minister, spoke of the good chemistry that existed between the Balad representative within the Joint List, MK Mansour Abbas, and Netanyahu's close advisor Natan Eshel.
Eshel is the prime ministers' emissary and political problem solver. He was dishonorably dismissed from his official post in the Prime Minister's Office over sexual misconduct, but continues to provide services for the prime minister in an unofficial capacity.
Haj Yahya said Tuesday he was unable to hear the radio call clearly because of bad reception, but confirmed discussions with Likud had taken place in April.
"We have always had discussions with members of Knesset, ministers and the office of the prime minister," he said, adding that, "we are always willing to negotiate."
He said that while he was out on Election Day urging his fellow Arab citizens to vote in order to oust Netanyahu, political "meetings and conversations are only natural."