Top rabbi: Arabs better coalition partners than the left

Kanievsky reportedly said Arab parties, unlike left-wing parties, are not trying to “turn everyone secular.” 

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

After Israel’s fourth round of inconclusive elections, it appears that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely need the support of the Islamist Ra’am party, chaired by MK Mansour Abbas, in order to form a government.

As Netanyahu appears to test the waters regarding public opinion about such a move, a highly influential haredi rabbi has stated that a right-wing religious government backed up by support from an Arab political party would be better than a coalition that partners with the left.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, spiritual leader of the United Torah Judaism party and an eminent Ashkenazi sage, was asked if it would be kosher for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ultra-Orthodox allies to create a coalition dependent on the support of an Arab party.

According to Channel 12 News, Kanievsky replied, “As far as safeguarding Jewish tradition is concerned, it is better to go with the representatives of the Arab public than with the representatives from the left.”

However, a number of journalists expressed skepticism about the quote, which was reported without an audio recording to verify its authenticity. Kanievsky, a nonagenarian in poor health, has not been heard speaking more than a few words at a time in public for several years.

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Kanievsky reportedly said Arab parties, unlike left-wing parties, are not trying to “turn everyone secular.” He cited shared family values and alignment on issues such as the role of religion in the state and military conscription.

The Arab parties have consistently voted to continue the exemption of haredi men from serving in the IDF.

On Thursday evening, Abbas spoke from Nazareth at a highly-anticipated press conference. He did not reveal if he would be supporting the pro-Netanyahu bloc or the “change bloc.”

MKs Betzalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir of the Religious Zionism party have repeatedly threatened to bolt from a coalition that depends on Ra’am’s backing.