Members of the Joint Arab List gesture during a news conference in Nazareth, January 23.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Joint (Arab) List responded quickly to Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman’s call on Tuesday for a boycott of the four-party alliance, saying he is “spreading hate.”
“As if there were no election, Liberman, whose party is contaminated with corruption, continues its racism” against the Arab public, the Joint List said in a statement.
“The man whose entire work is spreading hate and fear and polarizing society” got his answer last week “when we were elected with 13 seats in the Knesset,” it added.
Liberman, speaking to Army Radio, said that all government ministries and committees should enforce the suggested boycott of the coalition of parties that includes Arab nationalists, communists and Islamists.
The foreign minister’s comments came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with leaders from the Arab sector on Monday during which he apologized for statements he made on Election Day.
The prime minister had warned that foreign, nongovernmental actors were busing Arabs to the polls “in droves” in an effort to unseat him and that supporters of a right-wing government should rally around the Likud to ensure the Left did not form the next government.
During his meeting with the minority leaders, the prime minister emphasized the difference between moderate Arab Israelis and members of the Joint List who, on the same day, rejected the prime minister’s apology.
Liberman said that “it is good that Netanyahu invited the moderate [Arab Israeli] public and not representatives of the Joint (Arab) List, who receive instructions from Qatar or elsewhere abroad.”
Former Balad chairman Azmi Bishara, having fled Israel in 2007 after being accused of aiding the enemy during wartime, is now a citizen of Qatar and heads a think tank there.
The Joint List is composed of Balad, Hadash, UAL and Ta’al.
“They always try to slander the State of Israel and undermine its foundations,” Liberman said.
He provided examples of what he considers to be traitorous behavior by Joint List members, quoting recent remarks by Odeh’s public relations chief, who compared Zionism to Islamic State.
“We are unable to strengthen the moderates,” Liberman said, going on to suggest that the 13 mandates that the Joint List gained in last week’s elections were a result of the Zionist parties’ timidity in the face of its extremist rhetoric.
“We cannot bury our heads in the sand,” he said, criticizing other leaders for ignoring what he sees as a fifth column in Israeli politics.