Netanyahu apology 'not honest'

Netanyahu apology 'not honest'
Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu's apology for his election day remarks about Israel's Palestinian citizens has been dismissed as insincere.
3 min read
24 March, 2015
People protest against Netanyahu outside the Israeli Consulate in New York [Getty]

Political leaders in Israel say Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's apology, for comments he made in last week's national elections that offended members of Israel's Palestinian community, was not enough.

Netanyahu, who won majority support Monday from newly elected MPs to form Israel's next government, apologised for comments he made in a video on Facebook during polling saying, "The rule of the rightwing is in danger. Arab voters are going to the polls in droves!"

His excuses are not acceptable... his words challenged the very right of Arab Israelis to vote
- Ayman Odeh, Joint List

"I know that my statements last week offended some Israeli citizens and members of the Arab Israeli community. That was never my intention. I apologise for that," Netanyahu said Sunday during a meeting with Palestinian citizens of Israel that was broadcast on television.

However, member of the Israeli parliament Ahmed Tibi told Israel Radio Tuesday that Netanyahu's comment was "not an honest apology."

Aida Touma-Suliman of the Joint List, a coalition of political parties that received the overwhelming majority of votes from Israel's Palestinian citizens, said party representatives were not invited to the gathering where Netanyahu apologised.

Ayman Odeh, deputy leader of the Joint List, which won 13 seats, making it the third largest political grouping in Israel's new parliament, also rejected the apology.

"His excuses are not acceptable because not only does Netanyahu plan to bring in racist legislation but his words challenged the very right of Arab Israelis to vote for the Knesset," Israel's parliament, he said on television.

"I want to see actions, how is he going to manifest this apology? Will he advance equality?" Odeh added.

'Mistakes were made'. Click here for larger image

Netanyahu's remarks also drew international criticism, notably from Israel's closest ally, the US President Barack Obama. Commenting on Netanyahu's surprise election victory, he said "That kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel's traditions."

His chief of staff, Denis McDonough, on Monday also took Netanyahu to task over another pre-election pledge, to block the creation of a Palestinian state.

"We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made, or that they don't raise questions about the prime minister's commitment to achieving peace through direct negotiations," he said.

Palestinian citizens make up 20 percent of Israel's population. Equality is guaranteed by Israeli law, but many have long complained of wide-ranging official discrimination, from housing allocation to higher education places.

Many also took to social media site Twitter to express their views on the apology: