Ra’am will not rule out any party in the next coalition, including the Likud led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, party chair Mansour Abbas said at a “Shabbat Culture” event in Ramat Hasharon on Saturday.
“On a fundamental level, I do not rule out anyone, and I accept the Jewish sector as it is,” Abbas said to host Tal Schneider of Zman Yisrael. “At the same time, I hope that the current government will manage to get 61 [seats] in order to continue to give hope to all of the country’s citizens,” he said, and received a round of applause.
“This is the first time that parties from the edge of the Right and the edge of the Left are sitting together. Ra’am’s presence in this array enabled the joining of Meretz and Yamina, which is very important,” Abbas explained. “If for a moment someone thinks that I don’t have values, and I will join anyone who wants me, is very wrong. I don’t rule out anyone, and whoever rules me out is ruling himself out as well.”
The event was held at Ramat Hasharon’s Yad Labanim Hall, which serves as a cultural center and includes a monument for IDF soldiers from the city who were killed in action. A small group of protesters gathered outside of the hall, carrying signs that said “traitors” and “terror supporters.”
"This is the first time that parties from the edge of the Right and the edge of the Left are sitting together. Ra'am's presence in this array enabled the joining of Meretz and Yamina, which is very important."Mansour Abbas
Abbas, whose party represents the southern branch of Israel’s Islamic Movement, was asked by members of the audience about alleged terrorist support. One of the questions was asked by Boaz Kukia, the father of Ron Kukia, a soldier who was killed in a 2017 stabbing attack in Arad by a Bedouin who lived in the Negev.
Abbas said in response, “In Israel there are professional bodies, [including] law enforcement and the legal system, who track and know and are involved, and have not found any blemish in the activity of our nonprofit organizations and those of the Islamic Movement.”
Abbas stressed, “You raised a lot of money in order to try and to tarnish the Islamic Movement and Ra’am’s reputation. But you will not succeed, my friends. You will continue to try but will not succeed. We are a political, social, religious body, which for dozens of years has promoted an initiative of religious peace. We saved lives. We promote a relationship between Jews and Arabs of peace, understanding and the acceptance of the other.”
He continued, “If I was sitting today with Benjamin Netanyahu, you would not be making such an argument. What do you think, that Benjamin Netanyahu holds negotiations with Mansour without investigating who Mansour [Abbas] and the Islamic Movement are?
Abbas was also asked why his joining the coalition did not lead to more popularity among Arab-Israeli voters.
“Awareness and the dynamic of procedures do not happen immediately unless we are talking about revolutions, which do not happen today,” he said.
“In the Arab sector, there was a sharp decline in the percentage of people who voted because the [Joint] List broke apart, and we went our own way while the other three parties went theirs. But Ra’am’s power in the last election rose. The decrease in the percentage of voters was entirely on the side of the Joint List. Now we see that there is a rise in Ra’am’s power today.”