Report: Yemina, New Hope refuse Islamist party’s demands for entering ‘change’ coalition

Led by Mansour Abbas, the Ra’am party emerged after Israel’s fourth round of inconclusive elections as a potential coalition kingmaker.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Negotiations to create a so-called change government have reportedly hit a serious roadblock, just hours before Yesh Atid Yair Lapid’s mandate to form a government expires.

Kan News reported that the right-wing Yemina and New Hope parties were refusing to cede to the Islamist Ra’am party’s demands.

Led by Mansour Abbas, the Ra’am party emerged after Israel’s fourth round of inconclusive elections as a potential coalition kingmaker.

Hebrew-language media reported that in exchange for the party’s support, Ra’am is demanding an annulment of the Kaminitz Law, which penalizes illegal building and is allegedly mostly enforced in the Arab community.

Additionally, Ra’am wants a government commitment to a 50-million-shekel, 10-year economic development plan for remote Arab towns, along with retroactive state recognition of illegally built Bedouin communities mostly in Israel’s southern Negev desert.

Kan reported that New Hope MK Ze’ev Elkin said these demands “are impossible for me and for [Ayelet] Shaked. We will not agree to them under any circumstances.”

As time winds down for Lapid to announce to President Reuven Rivlin that he’d successfully formed a coalition, Lapid had asked Yemina to agree to a government for the purpose of meeting the deadline, the reports say.

Negotiations around the terms of the agreement could continue after the announcement, Lapid reportedly offered.

Yemina’s Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked reportedly refused to entertain the idea, saying all details must be worked out before the announcement that a government had been formed.

“The first priority is… to close an agreement with Ra’am that Yemina and New Hope can live with,” said Channel 12’s political correspondent Daphna Liel.

Liel suggested that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to grant Ra’am’s demands in exchange for the party not supporting the change government.

“Ra’am has hardened its positions in the past day, with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s encouragement. It’s not clear whether Netanyahu merely encouraged [Abbas] to issue greater demands… or made promises to him… regarding the Kaminitz Law.

“Yesterday, [the change bloc] was just an inch from finalizing with Ra’am.”

If Lapid fails to form a government before midnight on Wednesday, his mandate will be returned to the Knesset for 21 days, in which any Knesset lawmaker can try to form a government.

If no government is formed after the 21 day period, Israel will head to an unprecedented fifth round of national elections in a two year span.