Israeli Arab Parties Said They Supported Netanyahu's Rival as 'Slap in the Face to Trump'

Israel's alliance of Arab parties said their historic recommendation of prime minister candidate Benny Gantz was intended as a "slap in the face" to President Donald Trump and his close support of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Arab-dominated Joint List faction of the Israeli government's Knesset legislative branch had not previously made a recommendation for prime minister since 1992, the Jerusalem Post noted, and their vote this past week was intended not only to remove Netanyahu, but also to rebuff Trump. On Sunday, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh made history by endorsing Gantz to head the next government, while Ahmad Tibi, the head of Joint List party Arab Movement for Change, said the move to oust Netanyahu was made in part for diplomatic reasons.

"Our choice is a slap in the face to Trump and his ultimate deal," Tibi said in English, the Jerusalem Post reported Sunday. "Mr. Trump, keep your deal. The Palestinians deserve a state of their own. Do you understand this?"

Odeh told Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during new government consultations last week that the Arab parties are "looking for the way to prevent Netanyahu from being prime minister, and that is what most of the public wants. Therefore, our recommendation is for Gantz to form the next government."

Currently, Netanyahu has a slight majority of recommendations, with 55 Knesset members from the Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Yamina parties backing him for prime minister versus Gantz's 54 recommendations from parties including Blue and White, Labor-Gesher, Democratic Union and most members of the Arab-dominated Joint List.

The Israeli parliament passes all the nation's laws and ultimately elects the president and prime minister.

Tibi told Rivlin that Gantz is "not our cup of tea," but cited criticisms of Netanyahu saying, "Our voters wanted this historic moment after a leader systematically incited against us as if we are an enemy."

Trump outraged Palestinians, Arab Israelis and other supporters of the two-state solution in 2018 when he announced plans to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a city to which both Israelis and Palestinians lay claim. The two-state solution an approach to ending Israeli-Palestinian tensions that foresees the two populations eventually splitting into separate countries. Previous proposals have included plans for Jerusalem to remain under international control, accessible to members of both groups as well as the large number of religious devotees of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths who visit holy sites in the city each year.

In 2019, the United States ended all aid to Palestinian Territories.

arab israel joint list trump
Israel's alliance of Arab parties said their historic recommendation of prime minister candidate Benny Gantz was intended as a "slap in the face" to President Donald Trump and his close support of Benjamin Netanyahu. Ahmad Gharabli/Contributor/Getty Images
Israeli Arab Parties Said They Supported Netanyahu's Rival as 'Slap in the Face to Trump' | World
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