Israel’s Labor signs secret agreement with Arab party

Left-wing party signs a secret deal with the Arab Reform party in exchange for its support in the elections.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Labor-Gesher alliance has signed a secret agreement with the Arab Reform party in which it states that if the veteran party becomes part of the government, it will work to abolish the Nation-State law, Kan Israel News reported on Monday.

Party leader Amir Peretz has refused to divulge the details of the pact made with the Arab party, which is centered in the Arab-Israeli town of Tira. However, the news channel revealed that in exchange for a promise of some tens of thousands of Arab votes, Labor has agreed to fulfill a series of demands if it joins the next government after elections next week.

These include, first and foremost, supporting the repeal of the Nation-State Law, which declares that Israel fulfills the national aspirations of the Jewish people alone. Although no other group’s civil rights are affected by the Basic Law, which was passed last year, the Arab sector considers it to be racist and illegitimate.

Other known pledges are to hire more Arabs for government positions as a form of affirmative action, putting a representative of the Reform party on the Labor list for the next elections, and opening up a local office in Tira that can hear citizens’ grievances.

According to news report, although the agreement was ratified by the Labor party’s institutions, it was not a unanimous vote. Some objected to certain clauses in the deal and others thought it would hurt the party’s chances to gain votes from the Right.

The party’s official reaction said, “The cooperation with the many supporters of the Reform party is a bridge between Jews and Arabs, and we will do all we can to strengthen this.”

The Reform party did not run in the national elections in April. Perhaps surprisingly, the two main Arab parties (Hadash-Taal and Ra’am-Balad) received only a combined 69.2 percent of the vote in Tira, when in 2015, as part of the Joint Arab List, they swept the town with 94.98% of the vote. Meretz received 24 percent of Tira’s vote in April, while the Labor party received a tiny 0.8 percent of the vote.

It is this number that Peretz hopes to change through the agreement.