Israel PM ‘driving a wedge between Arab Israelis’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a coronavirus vaccination facility in the northern Arab city of Nazareth, Israel, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 13 January 2021

Israel PM ‘driving a wedge between Arab Israelis’

  • Police arrested 10 people after Netanyahu’s visit sparked protests in the town

AMMAN: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of cynically courting the Arab vote to ensure his own political survival.

Claims that the Israeli leader was exploiting the “good nature” of Arabs were made after he made a surprise visit to Nazareth, the largest Arab town in Israel, on Wednesday.

During the visit Netanyahu greeted Nazareth’s mayor, Ali Salam, promising him a safe spot in the Likud’s list for the Knesset elections due in late March.

The Israeli leader also promised to increase budget spending and strengthen laws to stem criminal violence causing growing concern among Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

Police arrested 10 people after Netanyahu’s visit sparked protests in the town.

Wadie Abu Nassar, director of the Haifa-based International Center for Consultations, told Arab News that the Israel leader is a “magician and his latest prize is the Arab community.”

He added: “This is the first time in years that Netanyahu needs every vote, including Arabs, because of the challenges he is facing from his opponents. But he is a magician in politics and can never be counted out of any race.”

Head of the Joint List Arab alliance, Ayman Odeh, said that the Israeli prime minister imagines that the Arab community has a “short memory.”

“The only way to ensure the interests of the Arab community are met is through the unified voice of Arab citizens and their Jewish partners who are fighting with honor and dignity for peace, equality, democracy and social justice.”

In a tweet, Odeh also accusing Netanyahu of attempting to drive a wedge between Arab Israelis.

Referring to clashes between police and protesters, he said: “If this is what your reconciliation attempts look like, better to stay home.”

During the visit Netanyahu referred to his 2015 quote when he allegedly opposed Arabs voting in Israel with the comment that they are “coming in droves to vote.”

“People misunderstood what I meant,” he said. “I didn’t oppose the Arab vote, I only said that they are voting in droves for the Joint List.”

Netanyahu also said that Jews and Arabs are “dancing in the streets of Dubai, so why shouldn’t they be working together in Israel?”

The Israeli prime minister slammed the Joint List for opposing normalization treaties between Israel and four Arab countries.

Botrus Mansour, a Nazareth-based lawyer, told Arab News that the Israeli prime minister is exploiting the good nature of Arabs.

“He is using the agreements he made with Arab countries, and trying to use the fact that Arabs were disappointed with Benny Gantz and the Zionist left, to offer himself as an effective alternative. The Joint List has been splintered and Netanyahu is using that to make inroads.”

In the last elections, the Joint List gained 15 seats, but is expected to gain 10 more seats in the coming poll.


Dubai restaurants offer discounts for COVID-19 vaccinated diners

Updated 19 min 41 sec ago

Dubai restaurants offer discounts for COVID-19 vaccinated diners

  • A 10 percent discount to residents who have taken the first dose of a vaccine and 20 percent for those who have taken two

DUBAI: Dubai restaurants have begun offering discounts to customers who have been inoculated against coronavirus, amid a vaccination drive as the emirate seeks to fight the pandemic without closing its doors.
The UAE says it has already vaccinated some 2.5 million of its population of about 10 million, the second highest rate globally after Israel.
“Spread love, not Rona,” say social media fliers for three restaurants run by Gates Hospitality, offerings a 10 percent discount to residents who have taken the first dose of a vaccine and 20 percent for those who have taken two.
Diners must show proof of inoculation, such as a medical certificate, to get the discount.
While some people welcomed the move, it raised eyebrows on social media.
“There’s two ways to look at it, either it’s another marketing stunt, or a genuine motivation to get more people vaccinated,” said one tweet.
The UAE, made up of seven emirates including Dubai, began mass inoculations in December after approving vaccines made by Chinese firm Sinopharm and US drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
Dubai’s health authority said this week it would have to scale back on vaccinations after Pfizer announced shipment delays due to works at its key plant in Belgium. The Sinopharm vaccine is still freely available.
Despite a sharp spike in cases since the New Year, Dubai is still open for tourism and restaurants and services are operating, although with rules on masking and distancing.
Over the weekend the guidelines were tightened, with the number of people allowed at social gatherings slashed from 200 to 10, and restaurants and cafes ordered to increase spacing between tables from two meters to three.
The glitzy emirate has also suspended non-essential surgery in hospitals after a surge in COVID-19 infections.
While other tourist destinations are applying tight restrictions to control the pandemic, Dubai reopened to visitors in July.