Netanyahu: There's a lot of potential in the Arab sector

PM not ruling out Arabs candidate on Likud slate: There is no reason for the Arab public to be outside the mainstream of power.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Channel 13 News in an interview on Friday that he does not rule out an Arab candidate on the Likud slate in the upcoming election.

Asked whether he saw potential in the Israeli Arab population, he replied, “A huge potential.”

“Arab citizens see the huge things we have done,” Netanyahu explained. “We have brought four historic peace agreements with Arab countries, which have changed the face of the Middle East and Israeli society. Arabs and Jews are embracing in Dubai - and will embrace here as well. It is different, everything has changed."

The Prime Minister noted that the Abraham Accords bring "huge tidings", as he put it, to Arab society, because it is a "huge economic opportunity, a destination for tourism and an opportunity to do business. The fact that Arab citizens speak Arabic is a huge human connection that is economically important. There is an opportunity here to enjoy billions of dollars of investment that will come from the Gulf states."

Asked about reports that he was considering reserving a spot on the Likud slate for an Arab candidate, Netanyahu would not confirm or deny the reports but said, "I think it is a natural change that is happening now. For many years the Arab public has been outside the mainstream of power. Why? There is no reason for that."

"They are people who contribute, take action, work. When I go to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, I am treated by an Arab doctor. When I go to a pharmacy, there are Arab pharmacists there. Everything is already in place," he added. “So let's go all the way and be a part of the success story of the State of Israel. That is what I want to see reflected in the elections."

The interview follows recent cooperation between Netanyahu and the Ra’am party headed by MK Mansour Abbas, one of the factions that make up the Joint List.

Earlier this year, Abbas said that if Netanyahu publicly declares that the Arab public is legitimate, "there is something to talk about," as he put it.

More recently, Abbas acknowledged that “there is no real alternative to Netanyahu, and he's still going to be leading the country after the next elections. In the last seven elections, we tried to replace him, and we didn't get anywhere."

The Joint List voted in favor of dissolving the Knesset in a preliminary reading, but the representatives of the Ra’am party were absent during the vote.

Netanyahu’s comments also follow ones made by his rival, Gideon Sa’ar, who said in an interview this week that he is interested in including Arabs and Muslims on his Knesset slate.

"I have another five weeks until the lists are submitted, but we will include minorities on our list for the Knesset. This is important to me," he said in an interview with the Arabic language Hala TV.

When asked by the interviewer if he also means Muslims, Sa’ar replied, "Why not? The question is a question of a path.”

(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.)