(September 22, 2019 / JNS) With the Joint List scheduled to consult with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday evening and reportedly considering recommending Blue and White leader Benny Gantz as prime minister in exchange for a list of demands, most Arab Israelis have come out in favor of the Arab leadership joining the government.
A recent study by the Israel Democracy Institute on Jewish-Arab Relations revealed that 76 percent of Arab Israelis support Arab parties joining the government (slightly down from 2017, likely a result of the nation-state law) and 65 percent feel proud of being Israeli, the highest rate since 2003.
However, still, most Arab Israelis do not recognize Israel’s right to define itself as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
Professor Tamar Hermann, director of the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute, said: “The study clearly reveals that despite Arab Israelis’ serious criticism of their treatment by the state, especially in reference to the legislation of the nation-state law, there is a strong desire among them to integrate into the state and Israeli society.”
While “a substantial majority is in favor of joining the government and the appointment of an Arab minister,” said Hermann, “we see a significant decline in Arab Israelis’ satisfaction with their leadership. And so, it is safe to assume that if this leadership declines to support the new government (led by Gantz) after receiving a respectful offer accompanied by significant compensation for joining—this will deal a significant blow to the ties between the Arab-Israeli community and its leadership.”
The last time Arab parties recommended an Israeli prime minister was in 1992, when they endorsed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Among Jewish Israelis, resistance to Arab parties joining the government has dropped from 66 percent in 2017 to 50 percent in 2019. However, the numbers reveal substantial support for investing in Arab Israeli civic areas, such as education and infrastructure, and for a public space shared by Jews and Arabs.
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