“The story of the goat” said Gilead Sher, then chief of staff for prime minister Ehud Barak. I asked him why Barak and his government were building more settlements than even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, especially just before the launching of permanent-status negotiations with the Palestinians.This is like the old Jewish legend about a poor and miserable man who complains to his rabbi about how hard his life is. “Take a goat inside your house,” said the rabbi. The following week the man repeated his complaints to the rabbi stating that life is even more difficult. “Take some chickens into your house” and so on. Until the rabbi finally told the man to remove all of the animals and the next time he returned he told the rabbi how wonderful life had become.Well, as the story goes, Barak didn’t want to take on a political fight with the settlers and the right wing while he was about to enter into serious negotiations with the Palestinians. So Barak enabled the building of many more settlement homes, which he believed he could easily remove later after a peace agreement had been reached. This is of course a very problematic policy. My response to Sher was, “Did anyone tell the Palestinians the story of the goat?”Of course, no one did, and they only saw more of their land being taken, and Israeli settlements and occupation becoming more entrenched. Their worst fears were realized when they understood that Barak’s generous offer essentially annexed 11% of the West Bank and all of east Jerusalem into the State of Israel. This was one of the leading causes to the outbreak of the Second Intifada after the failure of Camp David in July 2000.I wonder if the position of the Blue and White Party in rejecting any engagement with the Joint List, representing the Arab voters in Israel, might also be the story of the goat. If it is, I wonder if anyone has informed them. It certainly looks like the discrediting of the Arab voters and a push to further alienate them from their citizenship and from the country. A regime change in Israel can only happen if the Arab voters vote in droves. For that to happen, they must feel accepted as full citizens.For Israel’s benefit, Arab citizens of Israel must enter the Start-Up Nation in much higher numbers. In order for Israel to become the “scale-up nation,” Arab men and especially Arab women must enter the more advanced and higher paid jobs within Israel. (This is also true for the ultra-Orthodox community). THE ARAB citizens of Israel want to be fully and equally integrated into the state. Their participation in the elections is a vote of confidence in the Israeli part of their identity, while it is also a clear demand for equality.Over the past decades, Zionist parties abandoned their commitment to full equality, and have not even tried to include representatives of the Arab citizens on high places on their lists. More than 90% of the Arab citizens of Israel who vote cast their ballots for the Joint List. These are their representatives, and they speak on their behalf in the Knesset.The Joint List represents the Arab citizens of Israel and their interests, which are both local and civil oriented (infrastructure, housing, education, jobs, crime, etc.) as well as national (against the occupation and in support of a Palestinian state next to Israel). There is pretty much full agreement between all of the members of the Joint List on these issues, even though there are significant differences within the list on tactics and perhaps more far-reaching goals.As opposed to what most of the Jewish politicians seem to believe, the Joint List actually represents a voice of moderation in Arab society in Israel. These are the people who want to be part of the system; they want to be representatives in the parliament of the State of Israel.The way that the Jewish Zionist parties relate to the Joint List reminds me of the position of Binyamin Gur Aryeh, who in the 1980s was the prime minister’s adviser on Arab affairs. I was then the founder and director of the Institute for Education for Jewish Arab Coexistence, which was established by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Education Ministry. I then made a great effort to work with the leadership of the Arab citizens of Israel. Most of the Arab mayors during that time came from the Rakah (Communist) Party.In my view, they were among the most moderate and progressive representatives of their people. Even then they were the leaders of the two-states-for-two-peoples solution, recognizing the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. But the Prime Minister’s Office pressured me to boycott them (which I did not do).If the Jewish parties in Israel reject the Joint List, they are encouraging the Arab citizens not to vote and pushing them to take more radical anti-Israel positions. Is this what they really want?The writer is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to the State of Israel and to peace between Israel and her neighbors. His latest book, In Pursuit of Peace in Israel and Palestine, was published by Vanderbilt University Press.