Tibi puts price tag on Gantz blocking majority

Tibi said his demands include a development plan for the Arab sector that would cost 64 billion shekels over 10 years or 32 billion over five years.

September 4, 2019 09:50
3 minute read.
Tibi puts price tag on Gantz blocking majority

IMPORTANT VOICES too. Election campaign banners depict Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh, leaders of the Hadash-Ta’al joint list that ran in the April elections. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Joint List will not enable Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to build a government without accepting the Arab sector’s demands, Joint List MKs Ahmad Tibi and Yousef Jabareen said at a news conference for English media on Tuesday.

Tibi said that just like parties issue demands for entering a governing coalition, there is a price for enabling a blocking majority in what he called “a preventative faction” from outside the government, which is a more realistic scenario.

“The main goal of the Joint List is to change the status of the Arab community and upgrade it,” Tibi said. “The best way to do that is to bring down Netanyahu and the Right. But there are terms and conditions for being a preventative faction.”

Tibi said his demands include a development plan for the Arab sector that would cost NIS 64 b. over 10 years, or NIS 32 b. over five years. He said he also wanted Arabs to be recognized as an official minority community, and to have a number of laws canceled including one that banned Palestinians from moving into Israel via family reunification.

Such demands could become a game changer if current polls hold true, and neither Gantz nor Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu obtain the 61 MKs needed to build a coalition after the September 17 election. One solution could be Gantz building a minority government with the Joint List’s support from outside the coalition.

“We will wait for the election results, and if someone will call us, we will listen and talk,” Tibi said. “I doubt that he will call. I want to kick Netanyahu out, but Gantz is not the cup of tea of the Joint List. He has not said two-state solution. Even Netanyahu said it. He lied, but he said it.”

Reacting to Joint List leader Ayman Odeh saying that the Joint List could enter a coalition under key conditions, Tibi noted that the list is made up of four parties who agree on 90%, and that he was not in Odeh’s party.

“A national minority cannot join a national government, because it brings collective responsibility,” Tibi explained. “What if Gantz as prime minister decided to attack Gaza, and [Jabareen] as a minister votes against it, and it passes? There would also be budgets for settlements and demolition of houses.”

He said a better mechanism to achieve the Arab sector’s goals would be as a preventive faction, noting that two Arab parties reached a signed agreement with Yitzhak Rabin to fulfill that role when he was prime minister from 1992 to 1995.

Reacting to Gantz ruling out a unilateral withdrawal in the West Bank, Tibi said: “When you talk about being an alternative to Netanyahu, be an alternative. Netanyahu and Gantz are competing over who can be more right-wing and aggressive on Gaza and impress the settlers.”

Jabareen said that with enough motivation, the Joint List could win as many as 15 or 16 seats. He lamented that after the April election, Gantz never even called the Joint List to ask for its recommendation to President Reuven Rivlin, which he said was because of racism in Blue and White.

“It is a fallacy that joining a Zionist party will bring real change,” he said. “We are not busy tailoring our suits. We will be in the opposition.”

A source close to Gantz responded that the party would form a stable, rightwing government that will address the pressing needs of all citizens, including the Arab sector.

“We are not dealing with negotiations right now,” the source said.

The news conference was organized by Media Central at Jerusalem’s Ambassador Hotel.

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