Prominent religious-Zionist figure Rabbi Yitzhak Shilat has said that the right-wing, religious bloc should accept support from the Islamist United Arab List (Ra’am) to form a governing coalition.
His comments come as a debate has opened up in right-wing circles, including among the religious-Zionist community as to whether utilizing Ra’am’s recent political flexibility to form a right-wing government and end the ongoing cycle of elections is something that can be ideologically tolerated.
Speaking on Channel 20, Shilat, dean of the Birkat Moshe Yeshiva in Ma’aleh Adumim, said that allying with the Arab Ra’am Party could “advance the national interest” and insisted that a government relying on Ra’am’s support would not be beholden to party leader MK Mansour Abbas.
“This is not a love story, it is more pragmatic, but there is behind it a potential for something bigger,” conceded the rabbi in reference to the enmity of the Israeli Right to the Arab political parties.
“We need to utilize this possibility, create an opening for some kind of trust with the Arabs among us,” continued Shilat, emphasizing that “the closeness of Judaism and Islam on a philosophical level and in principle is great, much greater than Judaism and Christianity.”
Shilat is a mainstream, politically right-wing leader of the religious-Zionist community, and with the election results creating another political stalemate, his comments highlight the possibility that the right-wing religious bloc could entertain the idea of allying with an Arab party for its own political purposes.
Despite the rabbi’s remarks, most on the religious Right ideologically oppose the idea.
Rabbi Haim Druckman, perhaps the most authoritative religious-Zionist rabbi in the country, said a right-wing, religious government could not rely on support from Ra’am since, he said, the party does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The leaders of the Religious Zionist Party, which was endorsed by Druckman, have also unambiguously ruled out the idea.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a leading figure in the conservative wing of the religious-Zionist community, told The Jerusalem Post that he too was opposed to a government supported by Ra’am.
Aviner argued that such a government would constitute a minority Jewish government in the Jewish state and said it would therefore lack legitimacy in principle.
“A minority government is a desecration of God’s name. Those who lead the nation are the people so the government needs to represent the majority of the people,” said the rabbi. “If you have a minority government supported by parties of the Arab minority then the country is not being led by a majority of Jews.”
Aviner added that the notion of the right-wing religious parties seeking support from the Arab parties instead of the Zionist left-wing parties was “crazy.”