Coalition to boycott Joint List after Peres funeral snub

Liberman says Arab MKs’ behavior crossed a redline; Odeh: Liberman’s initiatives to harm us only strengthen us.

Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Avigdor Liberman
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The coalition will sanction the Joint List at the initiative of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday after legislators from the bloc of Arab parties boycotted former president Shimon Peres’s funeral.
At a meeting of coalition party leaders, Liberman, who is also chairman of Yisrael Beytenu, said the Joint List MKs’ boycott of Peres’s funeral a week and a half ago crossed a line, and it cannot be ignored. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported Liberman’s request.
At the time, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh said the faction has “complex” feelings about Peres, who “since 1948 brought disaster to my people.” Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attended the funeral, and a delegation of Arab mayors paid a condolence call to Peres’s family.
Liberman said the Joint List MKs “proved that there is no longer a point in holding discussions or even arguments with them, and we should boycott all of their appearances and speeches in the Knesset’s plenum.”
The defense minister appealed to Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forrer to ask the Zionist Union and Yesh Atid factions to join in.
Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) said he plans to pass a decision by coalition faction leaders to sanction the Joint List.
“The Arab MKs’ behavior, which includes their absence from Shimon Peres’s funeral, proves time and again that they are not motivated by a true concern for the Arab population in Israel and coexistence; rather they are acting out of isolationism, incitement and polarization,” Bitan said.
Odeh called Liberman’s proposal “a new height in the humiliations from a man whose entire political legacy is built on hatred and polarization, who is coming to teach us how to build bridges.
“Liberman’s initiatives to harm the political representation of Arab citizens only strengthen us, just like his fear-mongering only makes the Joint List greater,” Odeh added. “We will continue acting in all arenas, including [in] the parliamentary one, to promote peace and equality.”
MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) courted controversy this summer by embarking on a speaking tour abroad, in which he repeatedly called for Israel to be boycotted.
As part of his speeches, he said that the time is nearing in which Israeli Arabs will boycott the political process.
On Sunday, Ghattas said Liberman’s idea is part of “political persecution,” and ultimately based on the goal of transferring the Arab population out of Israel.
“The Joint List gets its legitimacy from its voters, the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel, and not from Liberman or the racists standing at the head of the Israeli government,” he added.
MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said that “boycotting the Joint List won’t stop the next terrorist attack. Instead of stopping the deterioration... Netanyahu is being led by Bennett and Liberman and dealing in petty politics.”
According to Livni, the government is lost, lacking in vision and does not provide security.