The Joint Arab List announced on Monday evening that it had rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s apology to Arab Israelis. Earlier, Netanyahu offered a public apology for saying on election day that "huge numbers of Arabs" were coming out to vote, adding that many were being brought to the polling booths by V-15 and other NGOs funded from abroad.
In a statement, the Joint Arab List said, “Unfortunately the racism of Netanyahu and his governments did not begin and end with this inciting statement.”
“Racist and exclusionary legislation and discriminatory policies are part of Netanyahu’s work plan for the next Knesset as well so we can only reject the apology and continue our struggle for equality for the Arab population. The expression of regret is an empty gesture aimed at preparing for the continuation of racist rule,” the party stated.
MK Ahmed Tibi dismissed Netanyahu’s apology and claimed that “it is an expression of regret and not a sincere apology. We expect from the Prime Minister to be responsible in both words and deed. When it comes to Jews Netanyahu apologizes, but when it comes to Arabs he is only sorry.”
Speaking earlier to Arab mayors, Netanyahu had said, "The things I said hurt some citizens. I had no intention [to cause harm] and I'm sorry that I did. I see myself as Prime Minister of all."
Netanyahu's remarks caused a firestorm in Israeli media, with many accusing the Prime Minister of using racism to win over voters.
Left-wing politicians were particularly appalled by the statement, with MK Shelly Yechimovich (Labor) writing: “No western leader would have dared issue a racist text like that.”
The United States was similarly displeased with Netanyahu's comments. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest noted Thursday that they were "deeply concerned by decisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens."
Calling Netanyahu "dangerous," the Joint Arab List told President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday that it intended to contact the Attorney General about prosecuting the Prime Minister for his remarks.