Report: Blue and White promised Arab party to repeal law against rampant illegal Arab construction

Blue and White denied the report. President Rivlin begins consultations on who should lead the new Israeli government.

By World Israel News Staff 

As separate efforts have been launched by Netanyahu’s Likud party and the Blue and White faction, headed by MK Benny Gantz, toward forming a new Israeli government, Blue and White is denying a report that it struck a deal with non-Zionist Arab MKs to gain their support for Gantz as Israel’s next prime minister.

Blue and White finished slightly ahead of the Likud in last Tuesday’s Knesset election. Neither Netanyahu nor Gantz is seen as having a smooth path ahead toward cobbling together a governing majority in parliament.

The Joint List, a bloc of predominantly Arab parties, is the third-largest faction in the new Knesset and its support could be key for Gantz.

According to a Channel 13 TV report aired on Saturday night, Blue and White pledged to the Joint List that it would rescind an amendment to the Planning and Building Law that is seen in the Israeli Arab sector as harming the housing situation in Arab localities.

In return, the Joint List would recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Gantz be given the chance to form the new government, says the TV report. The president is beginning consultations on Sunday with the parties elected into parliament to hear their recommendations.

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Blue and White has denied that it made the promise.

The amendment, passed by the Knesset in 2017, is aimed at providing more effective means for cracking down on illegal construction.

However, Adala, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, argued that the bill “failed to take into account… a severe housing crisis in Arab towns and villages throughout Israel.”

“It is a racist law that is only aimed at the Arab public,” Joint List MK Ofer Cassif, who is Jewish, told IDF Radio on Sunday.

The Regavim Movement, an advocacy group for safeguarding policy on the use of national land, says that since the amendment against illegal construction was implemented, the number of illegal housing starts in the Galilee region, where many Arabs live, has been slashed by 50 percent.

Rescinding the amendment, says Regavim, “will empower and embolden construction offenders, neutralize the authorities’ ability to take effective action against illegal construction, further complicate future planning and proper utilization of Israel’s land resources, and worst of all, will cause irreparable harm to the national attitude toward the rule of law.”