Assailing Gantz coalition efforts, PM says Arab MKs ‘want to destroy’ Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused the lawmakers of the Joint List of seeking to “destroy the country” as he stepped up his verbal assault on the majority-Arab party, which the Blue and White party would have to rely on if it were to form a minority government in the three days it has left to cobble together a coalition.

“At the same time that our soldiers were putting their lives in danger, [the Blue and White leadership] held negotiations with the very members of Knesset who support the terror organizations and who want to destroy the country,” Netanyahu told hundreds of supporters at a Likud rally, without providing proof for his accusation.

While some Joint List MKs spoke out against Israel’s targeted killing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group’s senior commander Baha Abu al-Ata as well as the IDF’s airstrikes in Gaza, none of them expressed support for Islamic Jihad or its targeting of Israeli civilians.

At the beginning of his remarks, the prime minister clarified that he differentiated between Israel’s Arab citizens and the party that many of them chose to represent them in the Knesset. Still, Netanyahu’s claim that the Joint List MKs seek to “destroy the country” echoed a message sent out by his Facebook chatbot ahead of the last election, warning against a possible “secular left-wing weak government that relies on Arabs who want to destroy us all — women, children and men.” Facebook temporarily suspended the chatbot and Netanyahu later denied he had anything to do with the message, blaming it on a campaign staffer.