Veteran Arab Joint List MK says that the Likud will be toppled, but cautions that his party has demands that must be met for it to support Benny Gantz for prime minister.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Arab Joint List member Ahmad Tibi told the Hebrew radio show “Five” on Sunday he is sure that Benjamin Netanyahu’s days as prime minister are coming to an end, Arutz 7 reported.
Tibi, leader of the Ta’al party and a Member of Knesset since 1999, cautioned that negotiations for supporting a Blue and White-led government have yet to get off the ground. Referring to the victory-tinged speech Netanyahu gave on election night after exit polls showed the right-wing bloc getting 60 seats instead of the eventual 58 it ended up with, Tibi said Netanyahu’s “joy was premature, very premature.”
The Joint List is determined to topple Netanyahu, who said throughout the last election campaign that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz had no way to form a government without the support of the four-party amalgamation that opposes the idea of Israel as a Jewish state.
In a Channel 13 News report on the elections, Tibi attacked Netanyahu, saying, “A prime minister who puts an ‘X’ on the Arab public – we’ll put a big ‘X’ on him and remove him.”
However, he clarified that the Joint List is in no one’s political pocket.
“There has yet to be any official contact between us and the Blue and White party,” Tibi said, making it clear that its leader, Benny Gantz, would have to make certain promises in exchange for support.
“Our public is waiting to see [political] accomplishments and we will act responsibly while keeping the Joint List unified,” he said. Tibi’s list received a record-high 15 seats in the Knesset, making it the third-largest faction, which he said “requires additional caution and more achievements for our sector.”
In an interview the week before the elections, Tibi mentioned one particular precondition that might be difficult for former chief of staff Gantz to accept in order to get a majority of 61 votes in the 120-seat Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
“We will do our utmost as the Joint List to block any war and advance the peace process,” Tibi said. “There will be no bulldozers on bodies, no air attacks on the Palestinians. Peace, not war. I have a limit of what I can swallow.”
It is hard to see how a Blue and White coalition could accept what amounts to a veto on any future IDF defensive operation that might be needed to stop Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel from Gaza.
Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the Hadash (communist) Party placed another obstacle that could make it impossible for Blue and White to accept support from the Joint List.
“Anyone who continues to support the Deal of the Century – we will not support him,” she told Radio 103FM on Sunday, referring to President Donald Trump’s peace proposal.
Gantz, who met with President Trump right before he unveiled his peace plan in January, has publicly accepted the plan and said that he would like to bring it for a vote in the Knesset.