Suspense over: Islamist party stays in coalition, Israeli gov’t not falling so fast

Ra’am party chief Mansour Abbas told a Knesset news conference that the decision was made for the good of his community.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Islamist Ra’am party decided to remain in the Bennett-Lapid coalition Wednesday, ending the immediate danger of the government falling.

Party chief Mansour Abbas told a Knesset news conference that the decision was made for the good of his community.

Starting off in Arabic so that his constituents would understand him clearly, Abbas said, “I would like to reiterate: Ra’am entered the coalition to promote Arab society and provide a solution to all the troubles and problems of Arab society.”

Unlike the Arab Joint List in the opposition, he said, which would vote to go to new elections that could bring Benjamin Netanyahu back into power, his party was “taking responsibility” to help the Arab sector that “has suffered for years from many economic, social, and security hardships.”

A Likud-led government, he said, would “reverse” the gains his party had made.

“We are moving forward and expect the government to meet its commitments. We expect Prime Minister Bennett to address the issues we have raised,” he added.

Ra’am suspended its partnership in the coalition during the recent Palestinian riots on the Temple Mount. While the party said that the government would have to agree to Jordanian demands that would undermine Israel’s sovereignty over its holiest site in order for the political status quo to be re-established,  Bennett publicly rejected the Hashemite kingdom’s conditions.

The original coalition agreement provided billions of shekels to improve employment and social conditions in the Arab community, including uncontrolled violent crime.

In an interview with Yediot Aharonot, Abbas said that it was worth staying put because changes on the ground were already visible.

“There is a 30% reduction in murder cases and 40% in shootings…. There’s nothing more precious than human life. If I cut off this process now I’ll have problems with my conscience,” he said.

“There is disappointment, yes, there are mistakes, yes,” he continued. “There was an escalation during the month of Ramadan, yes. But it’s awful to compare the functioning of this government to that of the Netanyahu government.

“I received many requests from Arab citizens, but mostly from Jewish citizens, who are asking us to stay. And that lets you see things from a broader perspective.”

Abbas’ announcement was still not a given, despite his words and recent polling numbers showing that if new elections took place now, his party would not pass the electoral threshold.

Following the announcement, the Opposition pulled a bill it had planned to table Wednesday to dissolve the Knesset, since it would have no chance of passing with the coalition back to a 60-60 tie in the plenum.

The Likud speculated that the government had made dangerous concessions to Ra’am in order to endure, and predicted that its end would come sooner rather than later.

“What else did Bennett sell to Mansour Abbas for the survival of his weak and submissive government?” the party asked in a statement. “A government that depends on supporters of terrorism cannot fight terrorism, and it will soon fall.”