Israel’s long-marginalized Arab minority is throwing around its newfound weight.
The Joint List of Arab parties, significantly strengthened by Israel’s inconclusive election on Tuesday last week, on Sunday recommended that former military chief Benny Gantz form the next government.
Its backing could nudge Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to tap Gantz instead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose nationalist campaign preyed on anti-Arab sentiment.
That Israeli Arabs would recommend Gantz, whose Blue and White bloc counts three former generals and several staunch nationalists, is in itself remarkable.
However, recommending Gantz “will be the most significant step toward helping create the majority needed to prevent another term for Mr Netanyahu,” Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh said in a New York Times opinion piece published on Sunday.
“The Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel have chosen to reject Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his politics of fear and hate, the inequality and division he advanced for the past decade,” Odeh wrote. “We have decided to demonstrate that Arab Palestinian citizens can no longer be rejected or ignored.”
It is the first time since former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin ran for office again in 1992 on a campaign to make peace with the Palestinians that Arab parties have recommended a candidate for prime minister.
Their willingness to enter the process at this tipping point in Israeli politics gave extra weight to the Joint List — and gave voice to a yearning for influence among a community that makes up more than one-fifth of Israel’s population.
However, the Balad party that is part of the Joint List did not go along with the majority decision, which means its three lawmakers cannot be included in any tally of support for Gantz.
Rivlin will pick a candidate after meeting with parliamentary factions this week to gauge who has the most support, though a numerical is not necessarily the deciding factor.
It is not clear Gantz would be able to line up enough lawmakers to form a coalition even if he has the most backing and is given a shot.
Odeh said the Joint List — the Knesset’s third-largest party — would not sit in a government with Gantz, because he refused to commit to the Arab bloc’s demands, including a resumption of direct peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and the repeal of a controversial law enshrining Israel’s Jewish character in law.
Arab parties have never been in the Cabinet.
Rivlin was due to hold a joint meeting with Netanyahu and Gantz last night to press for a unity government, his office said yesterday.
Additional reporting by AFP
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable