MK Benny Gantz, chairman of the National Unity Party, said on Monday that he supports the integration of Israeli Arabs in the IDF or in another form of national or civil service.
In an interview with the Arab-Israeli Hala TV, Gantz said that "the era in which half the people serve the other half, or half of society serves the other half of society, is over. It cannot happen anymore. Therefore, I proposed a service outline that is very broad. There is military service, there is a security service and there is the option to serve in the emergency services, and there is the option to serve in central social and community services that the state recognizes...and people will have to choose where they are going to serve."
Gantz presented the basis of his view and its application to all sectors of Israeli society, including the haredim and the Arabs. "There are three principles: equality, that is, everyone serves some minimum amount of time, and on top of that differential and progressiveness. The more combative you are, or the longer you serve, the more adjustments you receive."
"The basis is an egalitarian basis. It contains the general society, it contains the haredi society, it should also contain the Arab society," he added.
On the phenomenon of crime and violence in Arab society, Gantz said, "It's the Prime Minister's problem. It's not anybody else's problem. It's not some small sectoral matter that a minister should look after. We need to make sure that there is a very strong fight against crime, through strong police work, by reinforcements on the ground, by strengthening the investigation and intelligence system, and by strengthening the judicial system, the enforcement and punishment derived from this matter."
In this context, Gantz noted that "it is possible to integrate the Shin Bet in some of these things," and that alongside the fight against crime, "we need a constructive arm that deals with education, that deals with infrastructure, that deals with construction, that deals with civil service for residents."
"It’s as though 20 percent of society is ignored, and to that we add (Finance Minister Bezalel) Smotrich who is cutting hundreds of millions. What is this catastrophe? It is criminal neglect. It is a failure of this country, of this extreme and evil government, and everything must be done to stop it," Gantz said.
Gantz expressed hope that a diplomatic agreement will be signed between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which would be "a big and positive step forward", and stated that if he could trust the agreement from a security point of view, then he would be happy to support it. At the same time, Gantz clarified, "I do not intend to be part of this extremist government."