Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Ra’am Chairman MK Mansour Abbas at the Knesset, April 6, 2022.

The Ra’am faction canceled a press conference it had scheduled for Wednesday morning, following the killing of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin (Al Jazeera Reporter Killed in Jenin, Watch Video Proving Arabs Did It). Faction officials condemned the killing and called for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry, adding that they would announce later their decision on whether to continue their membership in the coalition.

Ra’am was supposed to hold the press conference after the Shura Council––the Islamist umbrella organization that dictates the party’s agenda––after a discussion that lasted seven hours was still undecided on whether the faction should support the vote to dissolve the Knesset which is coming up Wednesday.

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On Tuesday, Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas said his faction had “very serious contacts” with coalition officials and that “positive progress” had been recorded.

Kan 11 News reported Tuesday night that Abbas is furious at the cooperation between the coalition and the Joint Arab List that opted not to support the recent no-confidence votes proposed by the opposition parties. Lapid called Abbas on Monday to update him on the planned cooperation his arch-rivals in the Arab sector, which enraged Abbas, who announced in response that he was not obliged to vote against dissolving the Knesset.

It is still unclear whether the opposition will propose a preliminary vote on dissolving the Knesset. Should Ra’am finally reach a reconciliation with the coalition, the opposition is expected to withdraw the vote, because if they lose, they won’t be able to raise it again for half a year.

The killing of the journalist in Jenin made Ra’am’s decision whether to return to the coalition ranks even more difficult and complex. According to Ha’aretz, party officials said on Wednesday that they “found themselves in an impossible situation that is difficult to know how to get out of.” Thy admitted that at this point they prefer not to go to a new election––recent polls have shown Ra’am struggling to cross the 3.25% vote threshold––so they are considering two options: The first is to oppose the vote on dissolving the Knesset, and to continue to suspend their cooperation with the government until an agreement is reached on their demands. The second option is to support the dissolution of the Knesset, knowing that the bill would not immediately lead to elections, and will probably not be advanced in the Knesset committees.

Yedioth Ahronoth published Wednesday morning the list of demands Ra’am has submitted to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett:

1. Preservation of the status quo in the Al-Aqsa Mosque (they mean the entire Temple Mount – DI) and prevention of the establishment of “Jewish Talmudic prayers and rituals in the mosque’s courtyards.” That’s davening to you and me.
2. An agreement signed by all the leaders of the coalition for the implementation of the economic five-year plan and the transfer of its budgets within a year.
3. Implementation of government decisions in the Negev and recognition of illegal villages within six months.
4. A written commitment by the Prime Minister to soften Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s rigid stance on burning issues in Arab society, especially planning and construction (yes, they really did demand this).
5. Increasing the collection of unlicensed weapons in Arab society and expanding the program to combat violence and crime.

Or, in other words, one man’s political demands are another man’s political suicide. But Naftali Bennett has committed so much hara-kiri, he might be immune to disembowelment by now.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.