Israel Elections: Did a rogue Likud MK ask the PLO to support Netanyahu?

A campaign official leading the Likud campaign’s outreach to Israeli Arabs said neither he nor Netanyahu knew about Molla’s efforts.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen speaking at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Sderot, on January 27, 2021. (photo credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen speaking at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Sderot, on January 27, 2021.
(photo credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/POOL)
The Likud campaign has nothing to do with Deputy Minister Fateen Molla’s attempts to get Palestinian leaders to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming Knesset election, a senior party source said on Monday.
A campaign official leading the Likud campaign’s outreach to Israeli Arabs, which has been unusually extensive in this election said neither he nor Netanyahu knew about Molla’s efforts until a reporter from Yediot Aharonot asked for a reaction.
“There is no one in the world who thinks that the Palestinian Authority will support Prime Minister Netanyahu while it sends money to [Joint List leader] Ayman Odeh to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and replace him with [Yesh Atid leader] Yair Lapid,” was the Likud’s official response.
Netanyahu called Molla to express his anger, Channel 12 reported.
According to Yediot, Molla has been in contact about the upcoming election with Muhammad al-Madani, chairman of the PLO Committee for Contact with Israelis, in hopes that Palestinian leaders would quietly encourage Israeli Arabs to vote for Likud, or at least not to vote for the Joint List.
The logic of having the Palestinians support Netanyahu is that a government in which New Hope head Gideon Sa’ar and Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett have dominant roles would be more right-wing than one led by Netanyahu, and therefore would be less favorable for the Palestinians.
Al-Madani invited Molla to meet in Ramallah, but Molla did not receive permission to do so, the newspaper reported, so the talks stopped.
Molla confirmed to Yediot that “low intensity” talks had taken place.
“We are trying to do good for the people of Israel and the Middle East,” he said. “I cannot give details beyond that. The Joint List does not represent the Palestinian people.”
The Likud campaign source said that the discussions happened when unbeknownst to them, a Palestinian businessman reached out to Molla to discuss greater engagement between Israelis and Palestinians. But the source said the party is not seeking support from the PLO or the Palestinian Authority.
The PLO committee said on Monday that meeting with Israeli political parties is a core part of its mission, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
The committee argued that Israeli authorities often stop Israeli political party representatives from meeting with them in Ramallah “under the security pretext, but in reality, it is intended to prevent Israeli society from knowing the truth of the official Palestinian position that calls for a solution to the conflict on the basis of mutual recognition between the states of Palestine and Israel, and not on the basis of perpetuating the occupation and the conflict.”
New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar told Channel 12 that he did not find the claim that Netanyahu did not know what Molla was doing to be credible, and called on Netanyahu to fire the deputy minister.
“If the PLO would have come out against Bennett or me - at what price?” Sa’ar said.