Arab Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List alliance said on Saturday that the world will be better off without Benjamin Netanyahu as Israeli prime minister and Donald Trump as US president.
Speaking at a cultural event on Saturday in the Arab town of Baqa al-Gharbiya in northern Israel, Tibi said that the next year “will see the defeat of two people without whom the world will be a better place — Netanyahu and Trump.”
“Netanyahu will be replaced in elections where more Arab voters will turn out than the previous vote,” Tibi said, adding that he believes the Joint List faction will “gain strength and win more seats” in any upcoming vote.
Tibi also predicted Trump would not win a second term in the US presidential elections in 2020.
Tibi’s comments came a week after he was accosted by several dozen right-wing activists outside a political event in the central town of Ramat Hasharon, after which he warned that Netanyahu’s language towards Arab lawmakers could lead to their murder.
Last Saturday, right-wing protesters held placards outside the event, accusing Tibi of being a “terrorist” and “murderer.” One sign declared “You’re not wanted here!” while another said “Terrorist supporters — not in our city.” When Tibi arrived, police were forced to stand between him and the activists, who shouted derogatory remarks at him.
Police detained two protesters suspected of attempting to attack Tibi as he entered the premises.
At the event, Tibi said the prime minister’s “incitement” against Arab lawmakers had consequences. “If a government had been formed with outside support by the Joint List… one of the Arab MKs would have been murdered,” Tibi told the audience.
Referencing long-standing accusations that Netanyahu supported incitement in the days before the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Tibi said: “It’s worked out once for Netanyahu. We’re easier targets than a serving prime minister.”
Later that day, Joint List head Ayman Odeh called Netanyahu a “psychopath” and accused him of stirring trouble for those who oppose him.
“Netanyahu’s hatred and violence spread like wildfire. Arabs, left-wing Jews, journalists, the judicial system and even members of his own party” were being ideologically attacked, Odeh wrote on Twitter. “The outgoing prime minister is a dangerous psychopath who knows no boundaries. A criminal with his back to the wall. Does anyone doubt that he will deny a political motive for the next murder?” Odeh wrote.
Netanyahu and his supporters have, without offering proof, portrayed Tibi and other Arab lawmakers in recent weeks as supporters of terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
As the political deadlock paralyzing much of the country for over a year has continued, Netanyahu has used language deemed by critics as racist to lash out at Arab lawmakers, whom he has accused of thwarting his chances of reaching a coalition agreement with rival party Blue and White. He warned of the possibility of Blue and White chief Benny Gantz forming a minority government backed by the Arab-majority Joint List from the outside.
In November, the prime minister held a rally where he likened a minority government backed by the Joint List to a “terror attack.” He accused members of the Joint List of seeking to “destroy the country,” and claimed, without proof, that the “dangerous” Arab MKs supported the Gaza terror organizations that Israel fought against in recent weeks.
While some Joint List MKs spoke out against the targeted killing of the Islamic Jihad terror group’s senior commander Baha Abu al-Ata earlier in November as well as the Israel Defense Force’s airstrikes in Gaza, none of them expressed support for Islamic Jihad or its targeting of Israeli civilians.
Tibi has been a vociferous critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians over the years, and in 2012 accused Israeli soldiers of being “child-murderers.”
Netanyahu’s remarks about the Joint List drew criticism from his political opponents as well as President Reuven Rivlin, who in an extraordinary rebuke of the prime minister, condemned his “ugly remarks” against an Israeli minority.
The Knesset has a December 11 deadline for at least 61 lawmakers to agree on an MK who would form a government and end the political deadlock after Netanyahu, and then Gantz, failed to form a government following the September elections.
The Knesset’s top legal adviser, Eyal Yinon, said on Friday that elections will be held on March 3, 2020 if Israelis go to the polls for a third time in less than a year, as appears increasingly likely.