End of Netanyahu? Bennett meets Abbas as opposition government gains steam

The meeting was described as good in a Yemina statement.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Momentum towards a National Unity government that would bring an end to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s premiership appears to be picking up steam as Yemina leader Naftali Bennett and Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas met on Wednesday.

The meeting, which took place in Bennett’s office, was described as friendly. Following the meeting, Yemina issued a statement: “The two discussed the positions of both parties in light of the current political situation, and the meeting was good.”

The political combination of Bennett, leader of a right-wing party that advocates for sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, and Abbas, leader of an Islamist party, would have seemed unlikely in the extreme prior to the elections. Bennett himself, along with other members of his party, rejected the possibility of sitting in the same government with Abbas during their campaign.

According to Ra’am’s charter, obtained by The Times of Israel, it considers Israel to be “a racist, occupying” power to which “there can be no allegiance.” The party also supports the “right of return,” which would see Israel flooded with millions of Palestinian “refugees.”

However, Abbas has taken a pragmatic approach, which has put him at odds with the other Arab party in the Knesset, the Joint List. Ra’am broke with the Joint List, of which it was a part, when Abbas insisted that Arab Knesset members should focus on winning benefits for their constituents rather than on broader nationalist aims.

Read  Will Israel’s right-wing government keep anti-Zionist MK as deputy speaker?

Religious Zionism, another right-wing party sharing a similar ideology with Yemina, expressed its anger at Bennett for pulling away from the right-wing bloc and its willingness to negotiate with the likes of Abbas.

In response to the meeting, the party said, “As we’re making every effort to establish a right-wing government, Bennett is making another step, dangerous and irresponsible, towards a precedent-setting kashering of a left-wing government that relies on parties that support terrorism and child murderers and makes the State of Israel dependent on them and subject to extortion.”

Meanwhile, in another blow to Netanyahu’s hopes, the Hebrew press is reporting that Netanyahu’s failed attempt to appoint his own man to head the Justice Ministry on Tuesday has only strengthened the determination of New Hope, yet another right-wing party, to not to join a Netanyahu-led government.

A New Hope source told Israel Hayom, “Already for some time Netanyahu has been digging himself a hole. Yesterday he deepened it. We don’t need a government that will give him a chance to return.”

The party, led by Gideon Saar, a former Likud member who fell out with Netanyahu, has six seats. Bennett will meet with Saar on Wednesday as well.

Ironically, the March 23 elections led to a Knesset with 72 right-wing Knesset members. However, animosity to Netanyahu among his erstwhile allies is the main reason that he has been unable to build a governing coalition.