Netanyahu says Bennett and Lapid ‘sold Negev’ to Islamist party

Ra’am chair Mansour Abbas said the premier, who himself has been accused of turning a blind eye to illegal Bedouin construction in the Negev, has been trying to connect with him over the past few days.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Yemina chair Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid for giving in to demands from the Islamist Ra’am party – but the leader of the Arab party says the premier has called him “repeatedly” in recent days.

“Bennett sold the Negev to Ra’am!” Netanyahu wrote on his Twitter account, referring to demands from the party that included government recognition of illegally built Bedouin communities in Israel’s south along with a promise to stop enforcing the Kaminitz Law, which is aimed at stopping illegal building.

“All MKs elected by right-wing voters must oppose this dangerous left-wing government,” he wrote.

After Israel’s fourth round of inconclusive national elections, Netanyahu floated the idea of forming a right-wing government with the Haredi parties and the Religious Zionism party that would be supported from the outside by Ra’am.

The Religious Zionism party torpedoed the idea, slamming Netanyahu for entertaining the possibility, and the change bloc set about trying to win over the kingmaker party.

“In recent years, the State of Israel seems to have lost its grip: Sovereignty in the southern region of Israel has been relinquished to the state that is slowly being built in the Negev,” NGO Regavim stated back in March.

“More and more illegal enclaves continue to spring up throughout the territory – and all the while, the Israeli government continues to turn a blind eye,” Regavim charged.

In his tweet, Netanyahu included a chart that compared the concessions Likud was willing to give Ra’am to those of the change bloc.

The chart marks a significant deviation from the Likud’s previous party line about their willingness to work with Ra’am, as they had previously claimed that no negotiations with the Ra’am party took place.

The chart showed that Likud and the right-wing bloc were ready to recognize just three illegally built Bedouin towns and would fund only 15 billion shekels in economic development plans for the Arab community.

The change bloc reportedly agreed to the Ra’am party’s demand for a 50-billion-shekel, 10-year plan.

But despite Netanyahu’s outward condemnation, Ra’am chair Mansour Abbas said the prime minister has been trying to connect with him over the past few days.

Abbas told Army radio on Thursday morning that Netanyahu had called him multiple times in an effort to convince him to thwart the change government.