The Islamist Ra’am party headed by Mansour Abbas froze talks on Monday evening it had been conducting with Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid in light of the escalation on the Gaza border and Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
Senior Ra’am officials stated that they will not join any government that will declare or support a war against “our people in Gaza.” Abbas did not even inform Bennett and Lapid directly that he is freezing talks but instead made statements to the media.
Bennett and Lapid do not have enough mandates to form a unity government without the support of Ra’am.
“Shocking!” Religious Zionist party leader Betzalel Smotrich sarcastically responded to the news reports about Ra’am. “The ‘cute’ Ra’am who was whitewashed as a partner to the government identifies with its sister Hamas in Gaza?! It’s been a long time since we’ve been so surprised. It’s mazal that this is happening now and what’s being postponed is just irresponsible negotiations and not a sovereign government in Israel or operational activity to combat terrorism.”
On Monday morning, news reports said that Ra’am is expected to back the unity government being formed by Bennett and Lapid.
The party would not be a part of the government but would support it from the outside. In return, the unity government will honor a list of Ra’am’s demands.
Bennett met with Abbas on Sunday and according to a Channel 12 News report, a meeting between Abbas, Bennett and Lapid was scheduled to take place on Monday but has since been canceled.
On Sunday, Abbas condemned the police response to the rioting of hundreds of Abas at Har Habayis and also expressed support for the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah who are facing eviction.
Abbas issued a statement saying any harm to the Temple Mount’s Al-Aqsa Mosque or those praying there is a “red line.”
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(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)