(photo credit: REUTERS)
Arab Israelis must not be discriminated against because of the violent actions of a small minority, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday as violence by some Israeli and east Jerusalem Arabs is straining ties between Jews and Arabs in the country.
Netanyahu's comments came a day after Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni said he would stop the city’s employment of Arab workers doing renovation to bomb shelters in local daycare centers.
"We should not discriminate against an entire public because of a small minority that is violent and militant," he said. "The vast majority of Israeli-Arab citizens are law-abiding and we are acting resolutely against those who break the law," he added. Netanyahu said that the “Jewish state” bill that he will bring to the cabinet on Sunday will enshrine full equality under the law to all Israeli citizens without regard to race, religion or gender, as well as ensuring the identity of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.
“There is no contradiction between the two things, and we will not allow the undermining of these two principles,” the prime minister said.
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said it was “sad that relations between Jews and Arabs will suffer because of some Jihadist fanatical terrorists.” He said that on the one hand “one can understand” the fear of parents of kindergarten children afraid “someone will take a knife one day, as happened in the synagogue in Jerusalem, shout 'Allah Akhbar” and begin to attack.”
On the other hand, he said, “this is something that should be handled while keeping the generally good relations between Jews and Arabs .”
Steinitz said it was important to be “very careful to keep Arab-Jewish relations as good and normal as possible.” Most Israeli Arabs, he said, “are loyal to the state of Israel and would never engage in terror activities against the state of Israel.”