Israel‘s far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to drive a wedge between the four parties that make up the Joint List in a bid to divide them and decrease the number of their cumulative seats in the Knesset, currently standing at 15.
According to sources in Hadash, the major component of the electoral alliance, tensions “reached a new level this week due to Netanyahu’s participation on Monday, November 9, in a meeting of the Special Committee for Eradicating Crime in the Arab Sector, chaired by the Joint List’s MK Mansour Abbas, who also represents the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement.” There Netanyahu vowed that he would work within the next two weeks to bring approval by the government for a long-awaited proposal to fight organized crime and violence in Arab communities in Israel.
The same sources in Hadash note that last month, MK Mansour torpedoed an opposition vote to establish a committee of inquiry into the “submarines affair,” also known as Case 3,000, in which Netanyahu was investigated by police on suspicions of corruption, but which was ultimately closed without any indictment. This bolstered claims by Joint List members that Mansour was cooperating with the prime minister. Senior figures in the Joint List, criticized Abbas, saying his behavior caused great harm.
Abbas rejected the criticism “and claimed he is conducting a different policy and discourse for the sake of achieving something for the Arab public.” Abbas, who chairs the Arab alliance’s Ra’am party in the Joint List, told Channel 12 on Thursday evening that he doesn’t rule out supporting legislation to protect Netanyahu from criminal proceedings in exchange for legislation benefiting his community.
Regarding the plan presented by Netanyahu to the Knesset committed, Joint List head MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) said: “I saw the Prime Minister in this same committee eight years ago, making the same promises… The Arab community yearns to put an end to the plague of crime and is fed up with the empty promises of Netanyahu. We will not pander to a prime minister who incites against us nor to an acting police commissioner who claims that our culture is so violent; let them start doing their jobs,” Odeh said in a statement after the Knesset committee meeting.
Joint List MK Jaber Asaqla (Hadash) said in order for any plan to work, it must address several basic needs in Arab society, including personal security, education, jobs and a vision for a brighter future. Netanyahu’s plan falls short, he said. “The proposed plan does not meet these needs and only offers superficial changes.”