Ra'am's Mansour Abbas to announce coalition's fate Wednesday morning

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government hangs in balance ahead of Knesset dissolution bill.

 Ra'am head Mansour Abbas attends a a plenum session and a vote on the state budget at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on November 4, 2021.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Ra'am head Mansour Abbas attends a a plenum session and a vote on the state budget at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem on November 4, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

The Ra'am (United Arab List) Shura Council concluded its meeting Tuesday night without making a decision on its status in the coalition, with party leader MK Mansour Abbas saying a decision will only be announced at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government is expected to sustain a significant blow on Wednesday, when a majority of lawmakers will pass a preliminary reading of a Likud-sponsored bill to disperse the Knesset and initiate new elections.

The bill would still have to pass three more readings in the plenum and at committee to be enacted into law. But Wednesday’s vote will begin a process that could prove too difficult for Bennett to stop.

The Ra’am (United Arab List) Shura Council met for several hours on Tuesday night and was expected to decide to officially remain in the coalition but keep its membership freeze that it initiated as a protest over the police entering the area near al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

The council decided to negotiate on issues related to the mosque and to the Negev that would lead to unfreezing its membership, but the talks would be led by Ra’am’s hard-line faction chairman, Waleed Taha, who wants to leave the government, and not its leader, Mansour Abbas, who wants to remain, Channel 12 reported.

Abbas is nevertheless angry at the government for cooperating with his rivals in the Joint List in Monday’s votes on no-confidence motions in the government.

Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid updated Abbas ahead of the vote, but he was still upset by the decision.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman at the cabinet meeting, May 1, 2022.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman at the cabinet meeting, May 1, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Despite the animosity between the two Arab parties, Ra’am officials have spoken to the Joint List about running together in the next election. Ra’am officials are afraid of failing to surmount the electoral threshold, a Channel 13 poll indicated on Monday.

That “the fate of the current government lies in the hands of the Shura Council of the Islamic Brotherhood is a historic nadir that Bennett has dragged us to,” opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.

“A government that is dependent on supporters of terrorism cannot fight terrorism,” he said.

In response, Abbas said Netanyahu also had waited in the past for decisions by the Shura Council when he negotiated the formation of a government with Ra’am. Netanyahu and Abbas met four times at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem for coalition talks.

“The Shura Council is a legitimate democratic legal body in the State of Israel that is run responsibly and in a statesmanlike manner, despite attempts to delegitimize it with incitement,” Abbas said.

The Likud said it would only raise its Knesset dissolution bill if it was completely clear that Ra'am MKs were not in the building and would not vote for it.