As sides courtroom him, Ra’am chief says received’t compromise on nationwide, civil rights

Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas said his party would not compromise its national or civil rights when deciding who to return as the next prime minister.

“Our red lines are our rights, whether national or civil rights,” Abbas told the Turkish Anadolu agency in an interview published on Wednesday. “We do not negotiate or compromise on these rights. We may not be able to reach all of them, but we will not give them up. ”

The comments come as Netanyahu loyalists have stepped up their campaign for the past few days to legitimize support for the idea that Ra’am could bolster a right-wing, Netanyahu-led coalition from outside the government, claiming the Islamist party only focused on civilian problems.

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Abbas has committed neither to pro-prime minister nor anti-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu after emerging as a potential kingmaker after last week’s inconclusive elections, Israel’s fourth in two years. Both Netanyahu’s Likud and the so-called “change bloc” of the parties that speak out against the prime minister have been campaigning for Abbas since the vote.

Abbas was due to deliver a speech on Thursday, and the political system was preparing for a sign of which direction to lean in.

Abbas told Anadolu he was ready to support a candidate for the formation of the next government “in return for improving the conditions of Arab citizens and ending injustice, marginalization and exclusion against them”.

Mansour Abbas, leader of the Islamist Ra’am party, speaks to a crowd in the northern city of Maghar on March 26, 2021. (Ahmad Gharabli / AFP)

He said a comprehensive government plan to fight crime in Arab cities and an end to the demolition of Arab homes were among Ra’am’s calls in exchange for support for the next prime minister.

“There is also the problem of our people in the Negev, as around 100,000 of them live there in undeveloped and unrecognized areas,” said Abbas.

“Our options are open and we are negotiating with the right and the left,” he said. “We are at the same distance from the two camps and are the third camp.”

Netanyahu aides, who categorically rejected any confidence in Ra’am in forming a government prior to the election, are reportedly seeking support from the party in the form of their abstention or absenteeism for parliament when voting on the formation of the next government. However, the Prime Minister will also need the support of the Religious Zionism faction, an alliance of right-wing nationalist religious parties who view Ra’am as anti-Zionist and support Palestinian terrorism. Netanyahu himself branded Abbas as an anti-Zionist before the elections.

Ra’am has been emphatically rejected by leaders of religious Zionism as a partner in government building, while Ra’am has ruled out cooperation with the extremist Otzma Yehudit religious Zionism faction.

Screen shot from video of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference on March 31, 2021. (Channel 13 News)

Ra’am won four seats in last week’s elections and, along with the right-wing Yamina with seven seats, has not signed a bloc. The two parties maintain the balance of power, but it is still not clear whether any group can cobble together a coalition due to ideological differences between the parties in each potential bloc and disputes in the anti-Netanyahu bloc over who would lead them.

A report on Tuesday said Ra’am tended to support an outside government led by Netanyahu.

Intense negotiations between the parties are ongoing as President Reuven Rivlin will begin meetings with party leaders next week to hear their recommendations on who should get a government formation for the first time.

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