Ra’am Party leader Mansour Abbas has ruled out the option of joining a future coalition with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, in comments he made during an interview with Channel 12 on Friday.
During the interview, Abbas criticized the former prime minister, holding him responsible for the dramatic increase in violent crime within Arab society. He also criticized those Joint List politicians who cooperated with Netanyahu over the last year.
"Netanyahu is the cause of everything that has happened in Arab society," said Abbas. "The increase and escalation in crime happened during his tenure. We [Ra'am] are with the 'change government,' and we will not support Netanyahu - he is history. He is the one who brought the fascist Ben-Gvir back to the Israeli parliament."
Abbas’s decision to rule out sitting in a coalition with Netanyahu marks a change in policy for the Arab-Israeli party. Back in July, Abbas said that he had not yet ruled out the possibility of entering into a potential coalition with him.
Abbas then turned his attention to Joint List MKs Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi, accusing them of worsening the situation at al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.
"They are over there taking photos while we are there defending the mosque," he told N12. "Odeh joined together with Tibi and the Likud to work to overthrow the government."
"We will not support Netanyahu - he is history. He is the one who brought the fascist Ben-Gvir back to the Israeli parliament."MK Mansour Abbas
Responding to Abbas’s comments, Netanyahu posted a 12-second video clip, saying, “I really am protecting the history of our country, in order to make sure Abbas and his friends will not be its future.”
Ra'am holding steady ahead of elections
An election poll published by Maariv on Friday morning indicates that Ra’am will keep the four seats they currently have in the Knesset, making them neck and neck with the Joint List, which is predicted to lose two of the six seats it currently holds.
Friday’s poll also indicated that Netanyahu’s bloc had fallen in numbers, predicted to gain only 59 seats, two short of the required 61 to form a government. Abbas’s decision, then, to put an end to the possibility of joining a Netanyahu-led coalition, might make it hard for the opposition leader to cobble together a coalition.
During the last round of elections in March 2021, Ra’am acted as kingmaker, negotiating with both Netanyahu and the Naftali Bennett-Yair Lapid bloc, before ultimately deciding to join Bennett and Lapid, allowing them to form a slim majority government. That marked the first time an Arab-Israeli party ventured into a coalition rather than remain in the opposition.
Regarding the Central Election Committee's (CEC) vote to disqualify Balad, Abbas said he did not see a problem with them running in the elections.
The hardline Balad Party recently followed Ra’am’s lead in splitting off from the Joint List, which is now composed of only the Ta’al and Hadash factions. The party was disqualified by the CEC on Thursday on the grounds that it “negated the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Ra’am faced a similar vote at the CEC on Thursday, ultimately receiving approval from the committee to run in the November 1 elections.