Courting Blue and White, Joint List opposes Zionism but supports ‘compromise’
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Courting Blue and White, Joint List opposes Zionism but supports ‘compromise’

Senior Arab MK says alliance of Arab-majority parties wants full civil and national rights for Arab Israelis and the establishment of a Palestinian state

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Left to right: Members of the Joint List party MKs Osama Saadi, Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi and Mansour Abbas arrive for a consultation with President Reuven Rivlin on who he should task with trying to form a new government, in Jerusalem on September 22, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)
Left to right: Members of the Joint List party MKs Osama Saadi, Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi and Mansour Abbas arrive for a consultation with President Reuven Rivlin on who he should task with trying to form a new government, in Jerusalem on September 22, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Senior Joint List MK Mansour Abbas said on Thursday that while his alliance of four Arab-majority parties opposes Zionism, it believes in finding solutions to inequality between Arabs and Jews in Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Of course, we are against the Zionist movement. However, from a pragmatic perspective, we are ready for a compromise between the Zionist movement and Palestinians,” Abbas, who heads the Ra’am party, told The Times of Israel.

“We believe that compromise should entail full citizenship for Palestinians in Israel including civil and national rights and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem,” he said.

“We know that Zionism and Palestinian nationalism are ideologically not in harmony with each other, but we believe this compromise is something that can work for both sides. We know there is no absolute justice, but we believe the solution should be as close as we both can get to that,” Abbas added.

Abbas made the comments hours after top Joint List MK Ayman Odeh called on Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Channel 12 to form a minority government with the support of the Joint List, saying that even if it would quickly fall, such a “courageous” move would be worth it for the single purpose of ousting Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

Mansour Abbas of the Ra’am party holds a press conference after a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on April 16, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Odeh also told Army Radio on Thursday that he views such a scenario as immensely important for Arab Israelis, one that would pay a critical role in “legitimizing” the community in Israeli public discourse.

President Reuven Rivlin granted Gantz on Wednesday the mandate to form a coalition after Netanyahu informed him that he did not succeed to put one together.

Gantz has not said whether he supports the establishment of a minority government with the support of the Joint List.

Netanyahu, however, has warned against the Blue and White chief attempting to create one, contending that there should be no government that relies on “anti-Zionist Arab parties that oppose the very existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

On Wednesday, Gantz spoke to a number of party leaders and agreed to meet with them in the coming days to discuss the formation of a government. But the Blue and White leader only spoke to the top lawmakers of three of the four parties that make up the Joint List, choosing to forgo reaching out to Balad MK Mtanes Shihadeh.

Asked on Thursday whether he saw any benefit in speaking or meeting with Gantz, Shihadeh responded in the negative.

Balad is a secular and nationalist party that adamantly opposes the notion that Israel is an exclusively Jewish state and strongly supports turning it into a country with equal national and civil rights for Arabs and Jews.

It was the sole party in the Joint List that did not recommend Gantz to Rivlin in September to serve as prime minister.

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz delivers a statement to the press in Tel Aviv on September 26, 2019. (Avshalom Shoshoni/Flash90)

The party issued a statement at the time explaining that it opposed recommending Gantz because of his “Zionist ideology, his right-wing positions that are not much different from those of Likud, his bloody and aggressive military history” and other reasons.

Abbas, the Ra’am party leader, told Ashams, an Arabic-language radio station based in Nazareth, that the Joint List would not accept Blue and White excluding Balad from negotiations with it.

A spokesman for Odeh said on Thursday that it would be “reasonable to assume” that the Joint List leader will meet Gantz next Tuesday.

He did not say whether the possible meeting between Odeh and Gantz would include other members of the Joint List.

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