Tibi: Arab sector backs outside support for government, contacts underway with Blue and White
Joint List MK expresses disappointment at prospect of unity government, says Netanyahu has created 'more social divisions than ever' and is to blame for stalled peace process; calls on Gantz to 'distance himself from those who have failed'
The head of the Joint List's Knesset faction MK Ahmad Tibi said Wednesday that there have been ongoing talks with the Blue and White party, and stressed that the majority of Israel's Arab community approves of outside support for a coalition government.
Tibi said that while there has not been a formal approach from Blue and White about Joint List support, he said he was sure that "a meeting on this issue will take place soon."
"Most of the Arab population approves of external support of a government," he said.
The four most senior members of the Blue and White party - MKs Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya'alon and Gabi Ashkenazi - met Wednesday to formulate a position ahead of President Reuven Rivlin tasking Gantz with forming the next government.
Speaking shortly before Gantz met with Rivlin, Tibi confirmed that the Joint List and Blue and White had met more than once during the current political turmoil.
"We've been having a series of talks for the past few months and I assume they will continue over the next few weeks," Tibi said. "We are the third largest party in the Knesset and have much greater political weight than in the past."
Joint List won 13 seats in the Sept. 17 elections, behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, which garnered 32 seats, and Blue and White, which won 33 seats. Should Likud and Blue and White manage to form a unity government, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh would become the country's first-ever Arab Leader of the Opposition.
Is there a possibility of a minority government?
"if you mean 57 MKs against 55 MKs, that's not a minority, it's just not true, but it was not presented to us in an official capacity. I follow the news and understand that Gantz is trying to turn to the Likud party, he wants a unity government and I regret that.
"There are more social divisions than ever before, the peace talks have stopped completely, all this all of this due to Netanyahu. If Gantz wants to start anew, he must distance himself from those who have failed in the past. He himself said that a Likud government is a failure."
Could a government made up only of Blue and White party, the Democratic Union and the Labor party - with your party supporting it from the outside the coalition - run the country?
"I don’t want to sound like an advocate for this option as though it were a viable option, because it's not. We haven't decided where we stand, and we do have many demands. There is no doubt that a government without Netanyahu, without the Likud party, without the right is the best government and could be the facilitator for the greatest change we've ever seen."
Is there no chance that you would be part of this government?
"If you are a minister in the government, you bear a collective responsibility for all that government's decisions in the political reality of today. This is almost impossible. If Gaza is bombed and my colleagues and I vote against it, we bear the responsibility.
"If budgets are passed for settlements in the West Bank, if a house is demolished in the Negev, we could not stand for that. Not from a moral, political or civil point of view. It does not corollate to our manifestos. Therefore, support for the government from outside the coalition – just as it was in the 90s - could be taken into deep consideration by the Joint List."
Have you seen approval for such a move in the Arab population?
"We looked at polls, most of the Arab population approves with participation, influence and support for the government from outside the coalition, but that depends on achievements for the Arab population and a written agreement between Blue and White and the Joint List.
"I have said what our demands are, Blue and White knows what our demands are, because they have had it in written form from us for weeks now. Their attitude towards civil issues is positive, and there will be issues approved even if we don't enter the government or support it from the outside."
Will you and (far-right Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor) Liberman both find yourselves supporting this government from the outside?
"I represent the Joint List, I represent the demands of the Arab population, we will not support parties that go against us.
"Our attitude is that we want to get Benjamin Netanyahu out and make sure that the only mandate he talks about is the British Mandate."