Blue and White MKs: No Chance We’ll Include Arab List in Gov’t

YERUSHALAYIM -
israel arabs
Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List. (Reuters/Baz Ratner)

If Blue and White forms the next government, the United Arab List will not be a part of it, list MK Yoaz Hendel said Thursday. Hendel made the comment in wake of a suggestion by UAL head Aymen Odeh Wednesday that his party would be willing to join a center-left coalition.

“Blue and White will establish a broad national unity government that will serve all Israelis,” Hendel told Reshet Bet. “We respect the Arab citizens of Israel and we see them as equal in all rights to other Israelis, but we will not include Arab parties whose basic position is the end of Israel as a Jewish state in our government.” Speaking to Army Radio, Gabi Ashkenazi echoed those thoughts, saying that his party “cannot include a party in the government that does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”

In an interview with Yediot Acharonot that will appear in its weekend edition, Odeh said that his party would be willing to join a left of center government. No Arab party has ever been a member of an Israeli government, and that has mostly been the choice of the Arab parties. In the past, Arab parties have been part of a leftist “voting bloc,” voting for bills that they support, and abstaining or voting yes on the establishment of governments they prefer.

As the price for his participation in the government, Odeh laid out several demands: a freeze on the demolition of illegally built Arab homes and retroactive legal approval for those homes throughout Israel and Area C of Yehudah and Shomron; cancellation of laws that impose harsh penalties on illegal construction; construction of a new Arab city in the Negev; a strong campaign to confiscate illegal weapons from the Arab sector; new hospitals to serve Arab towns; increasing old-age pensions; restarting negotiations with the Palestinian Authority; and cancellation of the Nation-State law.

Recent polls have shown the UAL getting 11 or 12 seats in the next Knesset, but even with the votes of Blue and White, the Democratic Camp, and Labor, Blue and White head Benny Gantz would have fewer than the 61 Knesset votes he needs to form a government. He would have to either recruit one of the religious or chareidi parties on the right, or convince Avigdor Liberman to add Yisrael Beytenu’s expected 9-10 Knesset seats to his government, both considered highly unlikely.