Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday issued a message of Jewish-Arab unity while warning against complacency with regard to the dangers of COVID-19.

During a meeting of the Knesset Committee on Combating Violence in Arab Society, Netanyahu reiterated that “Israeli Arabs are citizens of the state and deserve the basic services like other citizens of the state.” However, he added, much work remains to be done to that end, despite the fact that his governments have “brought budgets to the Arab sector more than any other government.”

Referring to the Abraham Accords signed at the White House on Sept. 15, the Israeli prime minister said that regional Arab-Jewish cooperation is “changing the face of the State of Israel and of the Middle East.”

“This revolution must take place not only beyond Israel’s borders but also inside them,” he said, and “the first component is personal security—defeating crime, defeating the rule of fear and defeating protection[ism].”

“I believe that with united forces, we will be able to achieve wonderful things here,” he said, citing the “important cooperation in the first wave of the coronavirus, [when] the Arab public—including religious leaders—was ahead of many other sectors in that it acted wisely and prudently … flattening the coronavirus [curve] in Arab communities and in mixed cities.”

Netanyahu warned, however, that the situation with regard to the second wave of the virus was not the same.

“Now we see the opposite phenomenon,” he said, attributing a recent rise in morbidity mainly to weddings, which have been taking place, in violation of government directives, for the past few weeks.

He then appealed to the leaders of the country’s Arab populace. “Talk to the public and explain … that we are all responsible for each other,” he said.

Referring to recent media reports involving a COVID-19 vaccine, Netanyahu said the “light at the end of the tunnel” was “not years but months” away.

“We have succeeded in lowering morbidity in Israel to the lowest in the world. However, we need to maintain this. I am a big believer in our ability to succeed together on behalf of all citizens of our state,” he said.

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