The Ra’am party has decided to “give another chance to the coalition and the government,” party chairman Mansour Abbas announced Wednesday afternoon, following another discussion of the Islamist Shura council. “Today we are returning to a political partnership for the benefit of Arab society,” he explained. “We have stabilized the political system and exercised our citizenship. We decided to freeze our membership following the events on the Temple Mount, and we have now decided to give another chance and return to the coalition agreements.”
In an angry aside, Abbas noted: “Netanyahu is back to inciting against us. It’s the same Netanyahu with whom we had relations in the previous government and coalition negotiations which are documented on my phone – we’ll probably have to get it out.”
For a while now, Abbas and the Bennett coalition have been claiming that the Ra’am chairman was then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s guest four different times in his official residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem when the PM was courting him in hope of adding the four-MK Islamist party to his coalition government. Likud members have been denying the claim, calling Abbas a liar.
On May 10, 2021, Ynet’s Moran Azulai reported: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ra’am Chairman Mansour Abbas met last Saturday in Balfour at Netanyahu’s request. Despite the statements of Likud members in recent days that there were no contacts between the Likud and Ra’am, the prime minister asked Abbas to “not join the Bennett-led government.” The Likud refused to comment.”
MK Itamar Ben Gvir cut into the Ra’am chairman’s statement and slammed Abbas: “You are the greatest danger.” Abbas replied, “You are a convicted terrorist.” Then Ra’am MK Mazen Ghanaim screamed at Ben Gvir: “You killed Rabin.”
Following the Abbas announcement, the opposition withdrew its proposed bill to dissolve the Knesset and will likely try again in the near future.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett refused to answer a question about what had been promised to Ra’am in exchange for returning to the coalition, and said: “We are a government of doing and of goodwill and moving away from the things that do not contribute.”
As we reported earlier (Islamist Party Delays Decision on Staying in Coalition Citing Jazeera Reporter’s Death), Ra’am presented Bennett with a five-item ultimatum to come back to the fold:
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.
We’ll keep you posted as to which of the above demands will be met soon. The most likely are items 2 and 3.