Ra'am party threatening to paralyze coalition

Abbas: "I want the coalition and the government to endure, but there are things that are important to Ra'am."

 MK Mansour Abbas during a discussion on the Electricity Law connecting to Arab and Bedouin towns, during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, January 5, 2022. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
MK Mansour Abbas during a discussion on the Electricity Law connecting to Arab and Bedouin towns, during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, January 5, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Mansour Abbas, head of Ra’am (the United Arab List), threatened on Thursday to prevent the passage of term limits for prime ministers and all other key legislation unless his party’s bills move forward.

Ra’am has been upset since Sunday, when a bill sponsored by one of its MKs, Imman Khatib Yassein, did not pass in the ministerial committee on legislation, which is chaired by Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar.

In response, Abbas canceled a tour of the Negev with Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and Knesset Education Committee chairwoman Sharren Haskel of Sa’ar’s New Hope Party.

But the term limit bill threat is more serious because it is New Hope’s flagship legislation, and Sa’ar promised to pass it by the end of the Knesset’s winter session on March 13.

The four Ra’am MKs’ boycott of the coalition led to three opposition bills passing in their preliminary readings in the Knesset on Wednesday, and the postponement of voting on sensitive bills to next week.

GIDEON SA'AR arrives at the Knesset ahead of the vote and swearing in of the 36th government, June 13, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)GIDEON SA'AR arrives at the Knesset ahead of the vote and swearing in of the 36th government, June 13, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The bills that were advanced would require banks to have staff help senior citizens, prevent interest from being charged on multiple payments, and recognize expenses at home for workers who cannot come to the office due to corona. Another opposition bill Ra’am supported would create an Arab city, but it fell by one vote.

“If he delays our bills in his committee, we will delay his in the plenum,” a Ra’am source said.

Abbas told KAN Radio that he “wants the coalition and the government to endure, but there are things that are important to Ra’am.”

One solution proposed by Yesh Atid was to move the legislating of the controversial citizenship bill from the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to the Knesset Interior Committee, which is chaired by Ra’am faction head Waleed Taha. But Yamina and New Hope blocked the move.

Cabinet secretary Shalom Shlomo and multiple ministers spoke to Abbas on Thursday in an effort to resolve the crisis. But a top coalition official said there was no end in sight.

“They have this tactic of leaving everything foggy and unresolved until the last minute,” the coalition official said.

“Everyone is talking to them. The question is whether they will climb down from the tree. Knowing them, it won’t work out until right before we vote again on Monday afternoon.”