Minister of Education Rabbi Rafi Peretz (Yamina) issued a sharp attack on the Knesset members of the Blue and White party on Monday, decrying their intention to establish a coalition government that will depend on the support of the Joint Arab List, following statements made by one of its leaders, MK Ahmad Tibi.
In an interview with Radio 103 FM on Monday morning, Ahmad Tibi stated: "The expression 'Eretz Yisrael' ('The Land of Israel,' as Israel is referred to in the Bible - ed.) is a colonial-style expression and not only do I not accept it, I oppose it. That should be made clear." He later added that, "I reject with disgust the expression 'Judea and Samaria.' These are the Palestinian West Bank, Palestinian areas that were conquered."
Referring to these comments, Rabbi Peretz said: "Eretz Yisrael is the inheritance of our forefathers, the realization of the Zionist ideal and the vision of our Prophets." Drawing a line from Tibi to the MKs of Blue and White, he added, "And with him [Tibi], are [Benny] Gantz, Boogie [Moshe Yaalon], Gabi [Ashkenazi], [Elazar] Stern, [Yoaz] Hendel, and [Zvi] Hauser, who plan to cooperate. Shame on you. Difficult times are coming for Israel. We can only hope that you will come to your senses quickly."
In his interview with Radio 103 FM, Tibi was challenged with the allegation that he and his Knesset colleagues grant legitimacy to terror attacks on settlers. He responded: "I find settlers repulsive ... But I suggest that you take a look at YouTube to remind yourself what my position was on the murders in Itamar (when five members of the Fogel family were killed - ed.). It took great courage to do what I did. And I am still waiting for an Israeli leader to condemn the attacks on Palestinian children. We're not talking about one child, or ten, but about hundreds of Palestinian children who have been killed by explosions, wars, and liquidations."
At the time of the Itamar massacre, Tibi indeed criticized the perpetrator, calling him a "coward" and adding that "the murder of children is much more than just crossing a red line ... there are rules to the struggle against the occupation."