Netanyahu urges Arabs to 'take part in society'

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologizes for controversial election statements about Arab voters - then 'goes one step further.'

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called on Israeli Arabs to take full part in Israeli society.

In a video message issued Monday, the PM apologizes for comments in which he warned that Arabs were "flocking to the polls in droves" - a reference to the expected success of the extreme anti-Zionist Arab Joint List party.

In the message, Netanyahu explained the comment was not meant to be directed at Arab citizens in Israel at large.

"I was referring to a specific political party but many people were understandably offended. I apologized for how my comment was misunderstood," he said. "But today I want to go further."

"Today I am asking Arab citizens in Israel to take part in our society - in droves," he continued. "Work in droves, study in droves, thrive in droves.

"Israel is strong because of our diversity and pluralism - not in spite of it."

"Over 20% of Israel's citizens are Arabs. And you have achieved incredible heights: Supreme Court justices, members of parliament, renowned authors, entrepreneurs, high tech business-owners, doctors, pharmacists," he noted.

The prime minister said he is "proud of the role Arabs play in Israel's success," but then challenged Arab Israelis: "I want you to play an even greater role in it."

Under the current government, the time has never been riper for that to happen, he asserted, noting the major investments made in the Arab sector.

"My government recently passed a resolution to invest massive resources in Arab communities.

"Arab communities are receiving unprecedented support for public infrastructure, for transportation, for employment, for welfare, for so many other things.

"And the reason for this is simple. Because your future is our future."

However, he acknowledged, "significant gaps remain."

Specifically, the prime minister highlighted the rampant violent crime among the Arab sector, which many critics have said is to a great degree due to lax law enforcement.

That, said Netanyahu, is the motivation behind his drive to tighten law enforcement within Arab areas and bring enforcement there up to the same level as their Jewish neighbors.

"I will never forget the conversation I had in a Knesset committee with a young Muslim woman," he recounted. "Her husband and sons were gunned down in an Arab town. She was shaking. She begged me, she said, 'Prime Minister, please increase law and order in the community where I live."

"And this is exactly what we're doing.

"Yesterday, the government approved legislation that would significantly strengthen public safety for Arab towns and villages. They're yearning to be free from a life of crime and violence.

"My vision is that young Arab boys and girls grow up knowing they can achieve anything in Israel as valued and equal citizens in our democracy.

"Today I ask you all to join me in this effort."

The PM ended on a note of unity.

"Jews and Arabs should reach out to each other, get to know each other's families. Listen to each other," he urged.

"Jews and Arabs should treat one another with the same dignity and respect you'd want for your own family.

"Our land is too small, it's too precious to fill it with discord and hate.

"Let us work together, Arabs and Jews alike, to reach ever higher in the noble pursuit of equality and dignity for all."




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