Yousef Jabareen shouts during a protest.
(photo credit: COURTESY HADASH)
Arab leaders lashed back at Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday after he expressed outrage at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to transfer a budget supplement of NIS 900 million to Arab municipalities.
Despite support for the deal among the top Arab leadership, Arab representatives told The Jerusalem Post they remain unhappy about the deal, with one saying a strike could still take place next month if Netanyahu does not offer anything new.
Netanyahu made the decision on Monday following a meeting with Joint List MKs led by Ayman Odeh and Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ganaim, who heads the National Committee of Arab Heads of Municipal Authorities.
“Netanyahu’s decision to grant Odeh and his anti-Zionist partners such an achievement is tantamount to shooting the Zionist state in the foot,” Liberman said late Monday night.
Liberman said he does not oppose transferring funds to Arab municipalities, just that Netanyahu did so via Joint List MKs whom the Yisrael Beytenu leader considers to be extremists.
“Instead of strengthening moderate Arab leaders, the prime minister is strengthening the most extreme MKs who are a fifth column in the Knesset,” Liberman said. “The same Netanyahu who warned about the Arabs coming on buses to vote in droves is now helping those who want the Jews to be expelled from here on buses.”
MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash) told the Post that, despite the deal, “the struggle continues.
I feel disappointment about what has been achieved but respect the decision, to give it a chance.”
More could have been achieved, he said, if the strike had gone ahead and the talks continued for a couple more days.
Regarding Liberman’s comments, Jabareen lashed back saying, “Liberman does not miss a chance to incite against the Arab community and its leaders.”
“What we got so far from Netanyahu is not a privilege but a right,” he said, arguing that what was achieved was a “marginal” budget increase, far short of the community’s needs.
These needs have increased over time because of the historical governmental discrimination in the allocation of resources, he continued, going on to accuse Liberman of contributing to this discrimination during his time serving in government.
The Yisrael Beytenu leader continues “to delegitimize our political and social participation,” he said.
Jafar Farah, the director of Haifa’s Mossawa Center (The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel), who was present during the Arab leadership talks in Nazareth on Monday to discuss the prime minister’s offer, is pessimistic about the deal and predicted that a strike could occur next month if Netanyahu does not offer anything new.
The state budget is over NIS 300 billion per year, he noted, insinuating that the NIS 900m.
offered over five years is negligible.
As for Liberman, Farah said his comments are not even worth discussing. “He led his party to a failure in the last election” and is looking for a distraction from the corruption investigation, he said.
“His people are suspected of stealing millions and he still is preaching and inciting,” claimed Farah. “Equality and coexistence scare him.”