Anti-Zionist Arab MK to right-wing coalition defector: Thanks for empowering us

Anti-Zionist Arab party celebrates 60-60 Knesset split, which grants them the power to serve as the make-or-break factor during legislative votes.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

An MK from the Arab Joint List party thanked former coalition whip Idit Silman for resigning from the government and reducing its razor-thin majority to an even 60-60 split, saying that her departure has strengthened the anti-Zionist lawmakers.

“I really like this new situation, and I would also like to thank MK Silman for making things 60-60. Our position is now far stronger than it was a month ago, clearly,” MK Ahmad Tibi told Channel 13 News during a televised interview on Wednesday evening.

Tibi, who recently visited a hunger-striking Islamic Jihad operative convicted of terror offenses in an Israeli hospital, said that his party now has the unique leverage to serve as the make-or-break factor during legislative votes.

“We will deal with each piece of new legislation in an ad hoc way,” he said. “Come to us tomorrow with a coronavirus grant [cash for citizens], we’ll support it. Propose expanded funding for settlements, we’ll vote against it. We’re in a very strong, effective, and influential position.”

When pushed as to whether he would potentially join the government and sign an agreement officially partnering with the eclectic coalition headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Tibi said the Joint List would refuse.

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The current government “destroys [Bedouin homes] in the Negev, harasses [Muslim] worshippers [on the Temple Mount] and allows the entry of Jews inside the Al Aqsa mosque, [permits] police brutality and violence at Bab Al-Amud [Damascus Gate],” Tibi charged.

However, despite these complaints, Tibi emphasized that he and his party would not vote in favor of a constructive no-confidence vote that would dissolve the Knesset and send Israel to an unprecedented round of fifth national elections in the same number of years.

Speaking about his party chair Ayman Odeh’s inflammatory call for Arab members of Israel’s security forces to throw down their weapons and revolt, Tibi said that the Joint List has always maintained a policy of being against the “occupation army.”

But as Odeh attempts to walk back his remarks on the heels of possible criminal charges for appearing to suggest that Arab-Israeli police officers are shaming their families and betraying their people, Tibi said the Joint List has no issue with Arab police officers.

He added that those police officers must not be enforcing law and order “over the Green Line” — otherwise, they become part of the “occupation forces” the Joint List condemns.

Tibi said that police forces clamping down on rioters in eastern Jerusalem would be considered “occupiers.”