Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, an alliance of four small Arab-backed parties, reacts to exit poll figures at his party's headquarters in the city of Nazareth on March 17, 2015. (Photo: AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Arab Parties Take Rare Step by Endorsing Gantz for Israeli PM

Three of the four Arab parties represented in the Israeli parliament as part of a unified ticket called the Joint List have recommended to Israel’s president that he turn to Blue and White list leader Benny Gantz to form the country’s next government. “We have decided to demonstrate that Arab Palestinian citizens [of Israel] can no longer be rejected or ignored,” Joint List head Ayman Odeh wrote in a September 22 op-ed piece for The New York Times. “Our decision to recommend Mr. Gantz as the next prime minister without joining his expected national unity coalition government is a clear message that the only future for this country is a shared future, and there is no shared future without the full and equal participation of Arab Palestinian citizens.” Nevertheless, Ahmad Tibi, leader of one of the Joint List’s constituent parties, told President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday that it was just as much a matter of defeating Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “Benny Gantz is not our cup of tea,” Tibi, explained. “We have a lot of criticism of him, specifically regarding Gaza. But when we told our public that we would do all we can to remove Netanyahu from power, we realized that we would need to take a bold step.” It was the first time in close to three decades that Arab parties have recommended one candidate over another to form a government. The last time was in 1992 with Yitzhak Rabin, who ended up signing the Oslo Accords only to be assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish opponent of the deal.

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