Mansour Abbas goes to Washington? Arab MK expected to visit US

The American lawmakers expressed their desire to host Abbas in the capital, Arabic-language media reported.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Ra’am party chair and coalition kingmaker Dr. Mansour Abbas impressed a visiting American delegation during a meeting on Thursday, leading to speculation that the lawmaker will be invited to visit Washington, D.C.

Abbas, whose Islamist party is the first Arab faction to serve in an Israeli government coalition, met last week with members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee in Jerusalem.

Arabic-language news site Panet reported that Abbas charmed the visitors while discussing the challenges facing the Israeli Arab community, including rampant crime and murder rates that are significantly higher than the national average.

Living conditions, including difficulties in obtaining building permits and illegal Bedouin settlements, were mentioned by Abbas as pressing issues.

He also discussed Israeli laws that much of the Arab community considers discriminatory, such as the Nation State Law, which was recently upheld by the Supreme Court, and the Kaminitz law, which is aimed at stopping illegal construction.

According to Panet, Abbas told the American delegation that his party “aims to influence the government’s policies and decisions through political participation at the coalition level.”

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He reportedly added that his party’s “comprehensive vision is that the Palestinian and Israeli peoples should live in peace and security, in partnership and tolerance, against the background of everything that is happening, and move forward on this issue.”

The U.S. lawmakers expressed their desire to host Abbas in the capital, Panet reported, and asked a number of questions to better understand the pertinent issues affecting Israeli Arabs.

Hebrew-language media reported that during a late-June tour of the U.S. just before his tenure as president ended, Reuven Rivlin touted the inclusion of Abbas’ Ra’am party in the coalition as a testament to Israel’s democracy.