Amid coalition talks, Mansour Abbas delivers weighing speech on commitment to Israel

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Amid coalition talks, Mansour Abbas delivers weighing speech on commitment to Israel


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Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas plans to give a political speech in which he will underline his commitment to Israel, to ease the path to its acceptance by right-wing parties, a number of reports said over the weekend. -end.

Abbas’s support, possibly from outside a government, is seen as crucial to forming any potential coalition after the March 23 election. But right-wing parties have been reluctant to cooperate with the non-Zionist Islamist party. Religious Zionism, led by Bezalel Smotrich, has completely ruled out this possibility. Some right-wing extremists accuse Abbas of being a supporter of the terrorist group Hamas.

According to reports on Channel 13 and Kan, Abbas is evaluating a speech in which he would reject terrorism and assure the general public of his dedication to the country. According to Kan, it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud that was pushing for such a speech, in order to pressure Smotrich to agree to cooperate with Abbas.

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Abbas previously gave a landmark prime-time speech on April 1, in which he called for a Judeo-Arab coexistence in Israel “based on mutual respect and true equality.”

According to Channel 13, in closed-door conversations, Abbas said he preferred a right-wing government led by Netanyahu, which he said would be more capable of helping his constituency than a government made up of parties from all walks of life. policies.

FILE – In this file photo from February 16, 2021, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Leumit Health Services Vaccination Center in Jerusalem (Alex Kolomoisky / Pool via AP, File)

Netanyahu was tasked this week with forming a government by President Reuven Rivlin. He currently has the backing of 52 lawmakers and is in talks with Yamina’s Naftali Bennett. Bennett’s backing would take him to 59, leaving him dependent on Abbas with all four Ra’am seats for a 120-year-old Knesset majority.

If he fails, the next most likely option appears to be a power-sharing government between right, left, and center, with Bennett as prime minister in a rotation deal with Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid. Such a coalition, made up of parties from Meretz on the left to New Hope under Gideon Saar on the right, would need either Abbas’ or the United List party’s support to achieve a majority.

Meanwhile, on Friday, religious Zionist Smotrich expressed optimism that Netanyahu’s right-wing rivals would drop their opposition to joining a government led by the outgoing prime minister.

“A government that relies on supporters of terrorism and terrorists is not a ‘right-wing government’ but an unscrupulous government tainted with blood,” Smotrich wrote on Twitter, referring to Ra’am.

MK Betzalel Smotrich. (Yossi Aloni / Flash90)

He said such a government would lead “to the downfall of the right and the rise of the left,” saying he was “proud” to oppose it and would do anything to prevent its formation.

“Since the election, I have worked tirelessly to form a true right-wing government led by Netanyahu,” Smotrich said. “If God forbids that no government of this type is formed, the blame will be solely on the shoulders of the right, which has failed to understand the gravity of the hour, renouncing to [their] ambitions, rivalries and personal boycotts, to sit together in the best and most natural government of Israel. “

His remarks appeared to be aimed at the New Hope Party, which was campaigning to replace Netanyahu. The party, led by former Likud Minister Saar, reiterated that it will not join a Netanyahu-led government since the March 23 election.

“I am optimistic,” Smotrich said, declaring that a right-wing government could be formed “without hatred of Israel and without supporters of terrorism. “

If Netanyahu fails to form a government, the president can either charge a second person with the attempt (for another 28 days and possibly an additional 14 days) or return the term to the Knesset, giving the legislature 21 days. to agree on a candidate supported by 61 deputies.


Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas at party headquarters in Tamra on election night, March 23, 2021 (Flash90)

If the president appoints a second person and that person also fails to form a coalition, the term automatically reverts to the Knesset for the 21-day period. Meanwhile, any MP is eligible to attempt to form a government.

Rivlin has indicated that he could not give the mandate to a second candidate if Netanyahu fails, but rather immediately send him back to the Knesset.

At the end of the 21-day period, if no candidate has been accepted by 61 MPs, the new Knesset automatically dissolves and the country heads to a new election, the fifth in less than three years.

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