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Israeli Arabs alarmed over Benny Gantz supporting Trump’s plan

Israeli-Arab politicians warn that they will not support a Blue and White-led coalition after the elections, if party head Benny Gantz keeps supporting the Trump administration's peace plan.
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It took time for the Blue and White party leaders to understand that Chairman Benny Gantz’s unconditional support of US President Donald Trump’s program has placed them in a Catch-22. Before the two election campaigns (April and September 2019), Gantz’s party viewed cooperation of Blue and White and the Arab Joint List as a historic opportunity for Jewish-Arab cooperation. But recent developments have turned this opportunity into a catastrophic crisis — one that might not be repaired after the elections of March 2.

In May 2019, after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced his intention to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pending a hearing, Blue and White organized a demonstration in Tel Aviv with the participation of all the factions in the opposition, against corruption and in favor of the rule of law and democracy. Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh expressed willingness to participate in the demonstration, and Knesset member Ofer Shelah (Blue and White) invited him to speak. The right-wing camp within Blue and White, including Knesset members Moshe Ya’alon, Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser, opposed the invitation to Odeh and argued that it would thwart all options of recruiting right-wing voters in the future. True, they did not use the kind of pejorative rhetoric used by Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman — such as “fifth column” and “supporters of terrorism” — but they essentially transmitted the same message: "Arabs not wanted here." On the other hand, Gantz understood that he would not be able to cobble together a government without the support of the Joint List (from inside or outside). Therefore, a few hours before the demonstration, Gantz himself invited Odeh to speak. The sky didn’t fall and Gantz and Odeh agreed to political cooperation.

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