Netanyahu: Integrating Arabs a national priority

At Jerusalem meeting, Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam invites Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit his city, calls for 'coexistence.'

Tags: Ali Salam
Ari Soffer ,

Prime Minister Netanyahu with Mayor Ali Salam
Prime Minister Netanyahu with Mayor Ali Salam
Haim Tzach/GPO

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with the Mayor of Nazareth, Ali Salam, on Wednesday afternoon, to discuss the government's measures to increase investment in the Arab sector.

During the meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu emphasized to Salam that he views the integration of minorities as a national goal. The meeting followed by two weeks a dramatic multi-billion shekel proposal to increase government investment in Arab communities in order to both close the economic gap between Israeli Jews and Arabs, as well as to end the lawlessness in much of the Arab sector.

Netanyahu and Salam also ambitious development plans for Nazareth, including new high-rise construction, a plan to encourage Christian tourism from overseas and the development of industrial areas.Nazareth himself to see things firsthand.

"I think that the integration of Israeli Arabs into Israeli society, in business, education, leadership, technology and in every field, is our national goal," Netanyahu said. "I think that the leadership of the Mayor of Nazareth in this direction is a model that needs to be an example for others and I would be pleased to help you."

Salam responded by inviting the prime minister to visit his city - the largest Arab-majority city in Israel.

"I invite you to Nazareth, the largest city in the Arab sector, a beloved city of peace and good tidings," Salam said. "It would be a great honor for me to host you in Nazareth. I believe in coexistence and in the only way – that we should live together and continue together."

The Nazareth Mayor is himself a longtime advocate of Jewish-Arab coexistence, and has spoken out in the past against extremist Arab MKs.

In one particularly memorable instant - footage of which went viral online - Salam interrupted a live Channel Two interview with Joint List leader MK Aymen Odeh, and proceeded to berate him and his fellow Arab MKs angrily for fanning the flames of violence and driving a wedge between Israeli Jews and Arabs.