Game changer? Arab MK says he’ll join center-left Israeli government

In a tweet, Odeh adds “the end of the occupation and negotiations on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel” as a condition to joining a government coalition.

By World Israel News Staff 

Could there be a historic alliance between a ruling Israeli faction and a non-Zionist predominantly Arab list after the September 17 Knesset election?

MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, says his MKs would be “prepared to join a center-left coalition” under certain conditions.

He made the comment in an interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, a preview of which was released Thursday ahead of its full publication due on Friday.

The newspaper says that Odeh did not consult with his Joint List colleagues before making the pronouncement. The Joint List is itself a bloc of four Arab parties.

The center-left coalition to which he is referring would be led by Blue and White, headed by MK Benny Gantz, which finished tied with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party in the April 9 Knesset election and is running neck and neck in polls ahead of the September ballot.

The Joint List’s readiness to join a Blue and White coalition has the potential to become a game changer because otherwise the right of the political spectrum headed by Netanyahu has been viewed as having the easier path toward forming the next majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

Odeh’s conditions include improved living conditions in the Israeli Arab sector, including the construction of a new city, as well as a return to negotiations with the Palestinians, says Yediot Ahronoth. He is also demanding the abolition of the nation-state law, which defines Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

In a tweet, Odeh adds another condition – “the end of the occupation and negotiations on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.”

Such an alliance would be historic because there has been a two-way apprehension, first by Arab parties to join an Israeli government, symbolizing recognition of a Jewish state, and secondly, due to a taboo, at least perceived, in a large part of the Jewish population against the inclusion in an Israeli cabinet of individuals who do not believe in the Zionist vision.

The extent of cooperation between such factions and the Israeli government in the past has been restricted to a “safety net” arrangement in which Arab parties pledge to prevent majority votes against the government, most especially, efforts to topple it. For their help, Arab parties usually received in exchange governmental assistance for the Arab sector.

Blue and White MK Yoaz Hendel rejected Odeh’s comments.

“Blue and White will establish a broad and state-oriented nationalist unity government,” he said. “We respect the Arab citizens of Israel and see them as citizens entitled to all rights, but we will not sit with the Arab parties, which fundamentally deny the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. Period.”

The Likud reacted to Odeh’s comments by charging: “Now it’s as clear as ever; Benny Gantz will set up a leftist government with Ayman Odeh and the Arab parties. Whoever wants a right-wing government must vote for the Likud.”