Honeymoon over? Islamist party boycotts coalition

With a razor-thin majority of just 61 seats, a boycott by the party means that the governing coalition has lost its upper hand.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

In what may be a sign of serious trouble for Israel’s month-old governing coalition, an MK from the Islamist Ra’am party announced that the faction will immediately boycott all meetings and Knesset votes.

“I informed the coalition that the members of the Knesset from Ra’am will not participate in committee discussions and will not vote on laws in the Knesset until further notice,” wrote the party’s number 2, Walid Taha, on his Twitter account.

With a razor-thin majority of just 61 seats, a boycott by the party means that the governing coalition has lost its upper hand and will need members of the opposition to either abstain or break party discipline in order to pass legislation.

Speculation as to what triggered the move ran rampant in Hebrew-language media.

Kan News reported that party leader Mansour Abbas was offended by covert talks conducted by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz (Blue and White) with the Arab Joint List.

After the Citizenship Law was defeated last week by one vote in an embarrassing failure for the coalition, Lapid and Gantz reportedly sought to bolster extra support for an upcoming vote on the state budget.

The men were said to have met with Joint List leaders to receive a guarantee that the party would either vote for or abstain from the vote, providing a “safety net” in case a handful of coalition members do not vote as expected.

Abbas’ Ra’am party and the Joint List, of which it was once part, are bitter rivals, and the move may have miffed the coalition kingmaker.

Earlier on Sunday, a Ra’am MK leveled harsh criticism at the new government during an Arabic-language radio interview. “I will dismantle the coalition if the government attacks Gaza,” said Mazen Ghanaim.

“There is no love story between Mansour Abbas and the new government. Bennett and Netanyahu? Both are bad,” he added.

“The announcement by the terrorist supporter Mazen Ghanaim that he will overthrow the government is further proof that Bennett and Lapid do not have a legitimate mandate from the people of Israel,” said MK Itamar Ben Gvir of the Religious Zionism party.

“We warned [this would happen] and it’s happening. Bennett and Lapid are being held captive by the Muslim Brotherhood, who are spitting in the face of the people of Israel.

“Now we can understand why when the south is on fire, the government is not really attacking Gaza. Mansour Abbas does not allow it.”