Arab party leader in new gov’t: We are Palestinians, support Al-Aqsa, guard the mosque

Mansour Abbas tells Jordanian TV: ‘We are part of the Palestinian people,’ support the Al-Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem.

By World Israel News Staff

The head of the Islamic United Arab List party that is set to become the first Arab party to support an Israeli government said Thursday that his electorate are “part of the Palestinian people.”

In an interview with the Jordanian television station Al-Mamlaka, Mansour Abbas talked about his decision to take part in an Israeli government, saying his religious Islamic party known by it’s Hebrew acronym Ra’am had to “break through many barriers” in an effort to become an influential political player participating in policy-making and decision-making.

“We do not differentiate between the right and the left of the Zionist political spectrum – they all serve their project, their country, the differences between them are not that big,” said Abbas, whose comments were translated by Kan News.

Abbas stressed during the interview that in his view the Arabs are not Israelis but rather part of a “Palestinian Arab public – whose people are citizens of Israel, and part of our Palestinian people.”

Refuting allegations that he was betraying the Palestinian cause by working with the Zionists, Abbas replied that his identity is clear and that he is doing his part when it comes to the issue of “our Palestinian people: We support Al-Aqsa [mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem], guard the mosque, invest in development in Jerusalem in order to establish our people there.”

Abbas added that “as citizens of Palestine born into this reality, we conduct our policies according to this reality…we will never give up on establishing our feet in our country and homeland.”

In breaking with the traditional opposition to working directly with any Israeli government, Abbas emphasized the pragmatic nature of working with the country instead of constantly being in opposition.

“This political approach has many features and is based on a clear vision regarding national, religious and human identity and the goals that the Palestinian Arab community wants in Israel and as part of the Palestinian people” Abbas said. “When we define well who we are and define what we want, we can determine how to achieve what we want.”

The last time an Arab Israeli party supported a government, but without participating in it, was in 1992 when Arab parties supported the Oslo peace process when Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister.

Under the coalition agreement, the Ra’am is expect to get the position of deputy speaker of the Knesset and will chair the parliamentary Interior Committee.

Abbas didn’t escape condemnation from other Arabs in Israel.

The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality and the Communist Party said in a statement that Abbas’ support “for a government that is not committed to stopping the ethnic cleansing in occupied East Jerusalem and the violations and provocations in Al-Aqsa Mosque … legitimizes the policy of denial of the rights of the Palestinian people.”

The statement stated that “the overthrow of Netanyahu does not legitimize support for a government headed by Bennett,” which they considered “a right-wing government par excellence in its composition and political line that does not present a real fundamental change from the Netanyahu government.”