The new Bennett-Lapid government was approved on Sunday with a narrow majority due to the support of the Islamist Ra’am party, the first such occurrence in Israeli history.
When Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas addressed the Knesset on Sunday evening, he chose to speak in Arabic, only briefly speaking in Hebrew at the end of his speech.
While speaking in Arabic, Abbas promised to “reclaim the lands expropriated from our people,” adding that “this is a national cause of the highest degree.”
Abbas also denied the claims of the right that the Bennett-Lapid government “sold” the Negev through recognition of illegal Bedouin settlements.
“No one sold the Negev,” he said. “It remains a part of the state of Israel and its citizens are citizens of the state of Israel. There is a disagreement about the ownership of the lands.”
Religious Zionist party chairman Betzalel Smotrich responded to Abbas’ speech by stating: “Abbas is again displaying a spectacular show of hypocrisy, with a nationalistic speech in Arabic in which he says the truth, a speech full of soothing words in Hebrew intended for Jewish listeners who are blind and deaf, especially those who make themselves so.”
When Bennett began his speech on Sunday prior to the swearing-in of the government, Smotrich stood up and shouted: “You should be ashamed of yourself!” while holding up photos of victims of terror. He and other members of his party were subsequently removed from the Knesset plenum.
אחרי שהונה את בוחריו, שיקר לאורך כל הדרך, וגנב את השלטון בכח הוא מטיף לנו מוסר על פשרות. "פשרה כואבת" שסידרה לו את ראשות הממשלה אחרי שהציבור זרק אותו מכל המדרגות…
לפחות תסתכל בעיניים של נרצחי הטרור, שאת מי שמחבקים את הרוצחים שלהם אתה מחבק עכשיו ואיתם אתה מקים ממשלה.
— בצלאל סמוטריץ' (@bezalelsm) June 13, 2021
In return for his support of the government, Abbas gained several wins for the Arab sector, including the legal recognition of three Bedouin communities in the Negev, the extension of the freeze of the Kaminetz Law, which cracks down on illegal construction, until 2024, and a doubling of the budget for addressing issues in the Arab sector.
Abbas also spoke about addressing the rampant violence and murder in the Arab sector. “Violence and organized crime pose grave danger to our lives,” he said. “The highest value we believe in is the value of human life. How can we claim to be patriots even as we fail to protect our nation’s children?”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)