Ra'am activists leave party WhatsApp group after Abbas speech

The speech, delivered mostly in Hebrew, was seen by many as an olive branch to Jewish Israelis.

Joint List MK Mansour Abbas alongside Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2020 (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN - ADINA WALLMAN)
Joint List MK Mansour Abbas alongside Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2020
(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN - ADINA WALLMAN)
A number of activists left a WhatsApp group used by the Ra'am party shortly after a speech given by MK Mansour Abbas on Thursday, although it is not clear if they left in protest to Abbas's speech, N12 reported Friday.
Former MK Masud Gnaim, a member who left the group, told N12 he did so because the group was about elections, and that the elections were over, but the timing of the exodus of multiple activists from the group – immediately after Abbas's speech – suggests otherwise.
Before leaving, Gnaim had texted the group an hour after the speech saying "Israeli Arabs? I don't know that Israel has Arabs... what I know is that there are Palestinian Arabs in Israel," according to N12.
Gnaim was unclear in his response when asked by N12 if his message was about comments made by Abbas, neither confirming nor denying that it was.
The speech, delivered mostly in Hebrew and seen by many as an olive branch to Jewish Israelis and an offer to work towards coexistence, did not reveal who Abbas would recommend to President Reuven Rivlin next week.
"I am not blinded by titles of kingmaker," Abbas said in the speech. "I don't want to be part of a bloc on the Right or Left. I am my own bloc."

Abbas said he was reaching out his arm toward coexistence.
"What unites us is stronger than what divides us," he said. "The time has come for listening to others."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s allies in the Religious Zionist Party have vetoed a government that relies on Abbas and Ra’am. But Abbas said he had no problem with them.
Religious Zionist party leader Bezalel Smotrich reiterated on Friday morning that his party would not sit in a government with Ra'am or "other supporters of terror," after Abbas's speech.
Abbas has the potential of being a kingmaker by either joining a governing coalition or backing it from outside. This presents a major shift from the historical makeup of the governing coalitions in Israel since its founding.