Does Israel’s interim Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believe that dialogue between the state’s Jewish majority and Muslim minority contribute to the interests of Israeli society, or does he believe that incitement and delegitimization of 20% of the public are preferable? The answer depends on when the question is asked.
Shortly after exit polls were aired on March 2 indicating victory for the right-wing ultra-Orthodox parties, Netanyahu called for “healing the rift” and declared, “It’s time for reconciliation.” Two days later, with publication of the official tally, the “healing” made way for inciting and delegitimizing replaced reconciliation. The right-wing ultra-Orthodox bloc got less seats than the center-left, but the prime minister decided to "calculate" the votes differently. According to the racist March 4 accounting Netanyahu presented publicly on a flip chart, the center-left political bloc accounts for no more than 47 Knesset seats. The Arab Joint List — the third-largest Knesset faction with a record 15 seats in the 120-seat legislature — did not figure in his arithmetic. For him, it is an abomination sullying Israeli democracy. “Such was the will of the people,” Netanyahu explained in analyzing the election results, minus their Arab component.