TEL AVIV

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hates the Arab citizens of Israel, an Arab member of Knesset (Israel’s parliament) said on Wednesday.

“Netanyahu is one of the most provocative Israeli prime ministers for Arab voters and Arab leaders,” Ahmad Tibi, a member of the Joint Arab List bloc representing Arab Israelis and leader of the Arab Movement for Renewal (Ta’al), told Anadolu Agency.

Tibi said Netanyahu is seeking to win over Arab voters ahead of the elections scheduled for March 23.

Tibi noted that the only purpose of Netanyahu’s recent positive approach towards Arabs is to garner their votes in the upcoming polls.

Before the last elections in March 2020, Netanyahu visited only one Arab-majority region.

Netanyahu, however, visited some seven Arab regions during his current electoral campaign so far, Tibi stressed.

Netanyahu needs at least two more lawmakers from these regions to be re-elected prime minister and to get legal immunity, Tibi said.

“We call on all Arab parties to make a commitment to our society that they will not support the legislation that would prevent the trial of the prime minister while in office. We want Netanyahu to be tried on the charges against him,” he added.

Netanyahu on Feb.8 appeared in the Jerusalem District Court for the resumption of his trial on corruption charges. Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the accusations.

On Jan. 14, Israel’s Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit filed an indictment against Netanyahu. His first trial session was held in May 2020, then followed by another session in July 2020, before the trial was delayed due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Tibi also criticized the split in the Joint Arab List bloc, saying it “harms the Palestinian cause”.

Ra’am Party under the leadership of Mansour Abbas, one of the four parties forming the Joint Arab List bloc, decided to leave the alliance and participate in the March 23 elections separately.

Netanyahu is preparing himself to run in the upcoming polls, the fourth in two years amid a political stalemate among the main parties in Israel.

Netanyahu, who is heading the right-wing Likud party, is the longest serving Israeli prime minister with more than 14 years in office.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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