Arab List’s Odeh: Gantz Needs to Oppose Annexation If He Wants Our Support

MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Arab Joint List. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

If Benny Gantz expects his party’s support in forming a government, he is going to have to declare outright that he is against annexation of areas of Yehudah and Shomron as specified in U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan, United Arab List head Ayman Odeh said Tuesday.

Speaking to Army Radio, Odeh said that “if we do not hear a clear statement from him that he is against annexation, we will not recommend him for prime minister. We will not vote for a government with him and Avigdor Liberman.”

In a recent visit to the Jordan Valley, Gantz said that he was in favor of at least discussing annexation of the area, although elements in the party, including number two, Yair Lapid, have said that they would only do so after negotiations and with the consent of all parties. Liberman has said several times that he would not enter a government supported from the outside by the Arab list.

Odeh’s remarks mirrored those of UAL MK Ahmed Tibi, who in a weekend interview with Yisrael Hayom said that “any party that wants our support has to reject portions of the Trump plan. We are listening quietly to the silence from Benny Gantz regarding the transfer of 300,000 Arabs to the Palestinian Authority and the removal of their Israeli citizenship. Gantz has not said anything about this.”

Tibi was referring to a section of the plan that outline possible land exchanges between Israel and a future Palestinian state, where Israel would annex areas of Yehuda and Shomron and swap territory in the Triangle, an area of central Israel hugging the 1948 armistice lines that has a large Arab population.

“Gantz thinks that being more right-wing than the Likud will help him, but he is mistaken,” Tibi said. His failure to condemn that aspect of the plan, as well as annexation of areas of Yehudah and Shomron, “is liable to make him pay a political price.”

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