Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party threw cold water on speculation that it would consider forming a coalition with Arab MKs after the March elections.
“We won’t form a government with Mansour Abbas or the Joint List, and we won’t rely on them, after they opposed the peace deals that bring Jews and Arabs closer,” Likud said, in reference to an Arab MK who has advocated working with Likud.
But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t welcome Arab votes.
“Israel’s Arab citizens support Likud led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu because they’re sick of wasting their vote on the Joint List, which sits in the opposition and does nothing for them. They are joining Likud to ensure integration, prosperity and security in their towns,” the party added.
Netanyahu has been making overtures to the Arab community in recent weeks, including a statement that he would not rule out placing an Arab on the Likud electoral list. The Joint List has told its constituents that they should not trust Netanyahu with the support.
A rare visit by Netanyahu to the Arab city of Nazareth on Wednesday sparked angry protests, as local residents and politicians recalled his party’s previous unsubstantiated warnings of electoral fraud in Arab communities and repeated attacks on Arab lawmakers.
Joint List leader Ayman Odeh observed that the prime minister must have a “short memory.”
“The only way to ensure the interests of the Arab community is a unified voice of Arab citizens and its Jewish partners who are fighting with honor and dignity for its interests — peace, equality, democracy, and social justice,” said Odeh.
The Joint List has been sliding in the polls, from its current 15 Knesset seats to as little as 10.
Netanyahu claimed on Wednesday that this was due in part to “the rising support for me and Likud in Arab society.”