Arab parties protest 'delegitimization and discrimination'

Arab parties express concern over Lieberman at Beit Hanassi.

tibi 248.88 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
tibi 248.88 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
All the delegations of Arab parties that met with President Shimon Peres on Thursday expressed concern over the fact that Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu party was the cornerstone of the new government coalition. Representatives of each of the parties called Lieberman a fascist and accused him of incitement against and delegitimization of Arabs. They were even more concerned that neither Kadima's Tzipi Livni nor Likud's Binyamin Netanyahu had come out strongly against what they termed Lieberman's racist platform. Referring to remarks that Livni had made during her campaign that coincided with Lieberman's proposal for population transfer, Balad's Jamal Zahalka said: "Livni does not have a policy of liberalism but of 'Liebermanism.'" MK Muhammad Barakei of Hadash complained that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz had permitted incitement against Arabs by extreme right-wing groups using freedom of expression as an excuse. It was time to clean up the offices of the attorney-general and the state prosecutor, said Barakei, adding that Mazuz should draw conclusions and resign. Barakei said that his delegation had told Peres that the racist agenda being brought to the government would push Israel to the brink of fascism. Dov Henin of Hadash warned that hatred and incitement went beyond political differences, and that if racist elements in society were not isolated, the results would be catastrophic not only for Arabs but also for Jews. "Israeli society faces a grave danger," he said. Ahmed Tibi of United Arab List-Ta'al said that there had been an escalation of anti-Arab and fascist incitement in the aftermath of the elections, and that his party had specifically asked Peres to publicly condemn any expression of racism or discrimination. Peres, who has unfailingly condemned any form of racism will, according to Tibi, raise the issue in his address at the opening session of the 18th Knesset. Journalists told National Union leader Yaakov Katz about the complaints by the Arab factions and asked if his party was anti-Arab. "We respect all residents of Israel, be they Jews or Arabs," said Katz, "but this is first and foremost a Jewish state, and then a state of all its citizens. We have nothing against Arabs so long as they obey the law."