The newly elected leader of Israel’s troubled Labor Party, Amir Peretz, said Saturday in a meeting in the northern Arab city of Tamra that racism in the country would end after September’s elections.
The demon of Apartheid will be eliminated and will not be part of a democratic Israel after the upcoming elections,” said Peretz, who led Labor from 2005 to 2007. “Today begins our joint campaign. The racists will remain outside the Knesset.”
The far-right anti-Arab Otzma Yehudit party failed to enter the Knesset after the April elections, despite joining the Union of Right-Wing Parties in a deal brokered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Otzma Yehudit launched its campaign with leader Michael Ben Ari calling to “resettle our enemies in their countries.”
The party says it supports encouraging deportation of non-Jews from Israel, and expelling Palestinians and Arab Israelis who refuse to declare loyalty to Israel and accept status in an expanded Jewish state, whose sovereignty extends throughout the West Bank.
However, Peretz spoke at the Saturday meeting about strengthening ties with the Arab community in Israel and presented to the group ideas for addressing the community’s problems.
Only a large Labor Party would be able to effectively combat racism and create equality in Israel in order to abandon Apartheid.
The meeting came after a week of widespread protests against perceived racism after an off-duty police officer shot and killed 19-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli Solomon Tekah on June 30.
Peretz, 67, a former defense minister, said Wednesday he had a program that would lift Labor to 15 seats when Israel next goes to the polls.
On Thursday, he said he was willing to do whatever it takes to create a large leftist bloc, including stepping aside to let ex-prime minister Ehud Barak lead a joint slate of their two parties.
Israeli’s went to the polls on April 9, and 65 of the 120 MKs who were elected then recommended Netanyahu as premier.
However, over the subsequent weeks of talks, Netanyahu failed to negotiate a majority coalition, with Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Lieberman refusing to join because he was not given a guarantee that a bill regulating the drafting of ultra-Orthodox males into the Israeli military would be passed in its current form.
Rather than allow another MK the opportunity to try to form a majority coalition, Netanyahu successfully pushed for the dissolution of the Knesset on May 30, setting another election for September 17.
The Times of Israel / ABC Flash Point News 2019.