Meretz chairman: The time is right for inclusion of the Arabs

MK Nitzan Horowitz at IAC summit: I believe a Palestinian state is the best thing for Israeli interests.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

MK Nitzan Horowitz, chairman of the Democratic Union
MK Nitzan Horowitz, chairman of the Democratic Union
Screenshot from IAC live video

MK Nitzan Horowitz, chairman of the Democratic Union, spoke on Friday at the Israeli American Council (IAC) annual summit in Miami, Florida.

Israel Hayom Editor-in-Chief Boaz Bismuth, who interviewed Horowitz, began by noting that Friday is December 6, the date on which, two years ago in 2017, US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“I am the editor of the largest Conservative newspaper in Israel, and next to me sits Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz, who is on the left, but he’s my best friend in the Knesset,” said Bismuth.

Horowitz admitted that he didn’t “pop champagne” upon hearing Trump’s announcement two years ago, but stressed that “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel”.

“Now I’ll say something you won’t like, but Jerusalem is also the capital of a future Palestinian state,” he continued.

“The best thing about Israel is that it’s a vibrant democracy, and democracy means diverse opinions that you may not like, and I may not like, but we must respect each other.”

Horowitz claimed that half of Israelis support the idea of a “two-state solution” and added, “I believe that this is the best way to preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Asked by Bismuth how a Zionist government can function when it relies on Arab parties that are against Zionism, as some have suggested the Blue and White party should have done, Horowitz replied that “it’s important for us to recognize that Israel has a majority of Jews but also a minority of Arabs. If you look at Israel’s future, you understand that Israel has no future without Jewish-Arab cooperation.”

“Now there is a growing sense in Israel, not just among left-wingers like me, that the time is right for inclusion, and the Joint List made an important step when they openly declared that they want to be in the government or at least support it from the outside.”

“This is important because if we ensure the participation of the Arabs in our government, that will benefit everybody,” opined Horowitz. “This is a good opportunity to let the Arabs in. They want to be part of Israeli society, they want to be part of the government. I think this is a very positive thing.”

Horowitz disagreed with the notion that Meretz doesn’t condemn Arab terrorism, saying, “Terrorism is criminal. If you have information about some MK or other supporting terrorism, then take that to the police. I’m not defending those extremist Knesset members whose views I do not share, but the question is what to do with the Arab society: Do we push them away or recognize that they’re a part of Israeli society and bring them in? They don’t like the Zionist idea, but if they’re willing to cooperate with us – they would also be part of the government.”

“There are some extremists, but they’re not representative of the Arab population in Israel,” stated Horowitz.

Bismuth asked Horowitz what his thoughts are on the religious public and Horowitz replied, “We respect religious people but we object to religious coercion. We have nothing against religious people observing Kashrut or Shabbat, but I wouldn’t want them dictating my life.”

In conclusion, Horowitz was asked by Bismuth whether he still believed in a Palestinian state, and Horowitz replied in the affirmative.

“I still believe in a Palestinian state. I think it’s the best thing for Israeli interests. I do this because it’s in Israel’s vital interest to end occupation and have a peaceful, Palestinian state side by side,” he said.

Mentioning Israel’s peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt, Horowitz noted they “enabled Israel to become a prosperous country. The last step should be solving the internal, bleeding conflict between us and the Palestinians. It’s hard but we all have to realize that there are two peoples.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)