Ra'am freezes coalition, Knesset membership in Temple Mount protest

Ra'am, headed by MK Mansour Abbas, took this step based on a decision by the party's religious advisory body known as the Shura Council.

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett shakes hands with MK Mansour Abbas in the Knesset. Large parts of the Jewish population do not recognize Israel’s Arabs as equal citizens. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett shakes hands with MK Mansour Abbas in the Knesset. Large parts of the Jewish population do not recognize Israel’s Arabs as equal citizens.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Ra'am (United Arab List) party froze its participation in the coalition and the Knesset in general on Sunday night to protest police violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem.

The move has no immediate practice implications given that the Knesset is on break until May, but it is one more symbolic blow to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's coalition, which earlier this month lost its slim parliamentary majority falling from 61 to 60 Knesset seats.

The four-member Ra'am party, headed by MK Mansour Abbas, took this step based on a decision by the party's religious advisory body known as the Shura Council.

It was also done in coordination with the offices of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (Yamina) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid).

Ra'am, which wants to remain in the coalition, has been under pressure to take action in light of the violence on the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al-Haram, al-Sharif. It has called on the Joint List, which is in the opposition to similarly freeze its participation in the political process until the violence has ceased.

Israeli Border Police forces are seen confronting Palestinian men in Jerusalem's Old City on April 17, 2022 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)Israeli Border Police forces are seen confronting Palestinian men in Jerusalem's Old City on April 17, 2022 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

By freezing its participation in the coalition Ra'am buys itself time to allow for calm to be restored before it has to take any action but is also a reminder of the potential that Israeli-Palestinian and Jewish-Arab violence has to destabilize the government.

The Hadash party, which is part of the Joint List, called on Ra'am to leave the coalition altogether. "Get out of the government of occupation immediately,' the parties stated.

The parties dismissed the political significance of any step taken in coordination with Bennett and Lapid. Such an idea is "dismissive of the intelligence" of the party's supporters and "throws sand in their eye," Hadash stated.

"The demand of the hour is to overthrow the government," it added.

MK Kathrin Shitrit (Likud) wanted to know if Ra'am planned to freeze the funding it had received and if it was banking on public stupidity.

"It's not possible to freeze one's participation in the Knesset", she said. "Enough with the bullshit," she said, adding that "it is time to stop with the farce of depending on the Islamic movement."

MK Eti Atiah (Likud) said "the loss of leadership is the loss of governance. This is what a government looks like when it hit the end of the road."

Earlier in the day, MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) told Israel Radio he believed that Bennett's government would fall but that his party had no intention of helping former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads the Likud party, in his effort to either replace this current government.

Netanyahu, he said, does not have enough votes to replace the government or take any other steps against it, Maariv reported.