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Head of Arab party jokes Netanyahu would end the occupation, recognize the Nakba, in exchange for fifth term as prime minister

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This afternoon, with an hour to go before the deadline passed for Benjamin Netanyahu to build a ruling coalition, the prime minister became a source of satire.

Netanyahu’s Likud party, who won a majority of seats in the Knesset in April thus securing a mandate to form a government, was dealt a potentially fatal blow today. Former Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party announced it rejected Netanyahu’s “final offer” to join in ruling over a dispute about compulsory conscription for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community. Into the afternoon hours, Israel media reported Netanyahu had made counter offers to lawmakers in the left-wing Labor party, dangling cabinet positions in vain to two representatives if they agreed to flip to his party. Days earlier, Netanyahu’s party made a similar bid to his centerist rival, the Blue and White party headed by retired general Benny Gantz.

Mocking Netanyahu’s overtures, head of the Hadash-Ta’al party Ayman Odeh, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, joked on the Knesset floor this afternoon that Netanyahu had also asked him to join the government. Odeh riffed that Netanyahu said he would end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, ensure equal rights for all Israeli citizens by canceling a law that recognizes the country as a Jewish state, and would formally acknowledge the Palestinian Nakba, so long as Odeh promised to endorse Netanyahu and his immunity law, a legal shield that could protect Netanyahu from prosecution over on-going criminal probes. 

The speech was posted to social media and translated into English by the Jerusalem Post:

“My friends and fellow MKs: I have a dramatic announcement.

I apologize before you, my friends MK Ahmed Tibi And Ayda that I did not tell you. The prime minister spoke to me seven minutes ago.

He told me he is prepared to withdraw from the occupied territories, and to cancel the Nation State Law, and that he is in favor of not just civil equality for Arabs, but also nationalistic equality. And, he is willing to recognize the Nakba and repair the historic mistreatment [of Arabs].

I do not know what to respond to him.

He tells me only [to support] the Immunity Law and the law to bypass the High Court – and I didn’t even have time to consult with you, and I look at the clock, at when I need to respond to him.”

After elections, Netanyahu was initially given 28 days to form a coalition. When he was unable to secure majority support from the Knesset, he was given an additional two weeks, which expired tonight at midnight local time.

This morning Israel’s president Reuven Rilvin explained if the deadline passes, the Knesset could dissolve and Israel will go back to elections, or the would-be opposition party, Blue and White, will be given an opportunity for form a government.

“I, for my part, will do everything in my power to prevent the State of Israel from going to another election campaign. Thank you for listening,” Rivlin said.

Yet after midnight, Knesset voted to hold new elections on September 17. If Netanyahu manages to regain his seat in the next race, it will be his fifth term in as prime minister.

Updated: 10:30 p.m.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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11 Responses

  1. Henry Norr on May 29, 2019, 11:48 pm

    Pretty funny. One correction, though: contrary to what’s stated in the second paragraph, Likud did _not_ win “a majority of seats in the Knesset in April.” If they’d won a majority, there would be no need to form for Netanyahu to form a coalition – he would have become prime minister immediately. In fact, Likud won only 35 of the 120 seats in the Knesset – that’s why he has had to engage in all this bargaining with other parties.

    In fact, no party has _ever_ won an outright majority of seats in a Knesset election.

  2. Elizabeth Block on May 30, 2019, 9:19 am

    Halevai [which means: God willing, with overtones of That’ll Be the Day]
    I wouldn’t put it past Netanyahu to make a bargain like that!

  3. wondering jew on May 30, 2019, 6:39 pm

    The only bright moment in this messy moment. Odeh jokes and the Knesset laughs. No, it is not the sign of things to come, but it is a type of camaraderie.

  4. DaBakr on May 30, 2019, 6:46 pm

    Proving what? That Arabs have every bit as good a sense of humour then jews? Of course they do.

  5. wondering jew on May 31, 2019, 10:06 pm

    The caption of the photo seems to indicate that this is from last Tuesday, when it seems pretty obvious it is from April 9th. You should correct that.

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