Israeli Arab Ra’am Party Freezes Membership In Govt., Further Weakening Coalition

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FILE - Leader of the United Arab List Mansour Abbas attends a Knesset session in Jerusalem Sunday, June 13, 2021. The head of an Arab party in Israel who made history last year by joining the governing coalition said Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, he would not use the word “apartheid” to describe relations between Jews and Arabs within the country. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)

JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Israel’s government, already shaken by the departure of coalition leader Idit Silman, was dealt another blow Sunday after the Arab Ra’am party announced that they were freezing their membership in the government until further notice. Despite this, coalition members are confident that they can solve the crisis and restore the party to the government before the end of the Knesset’s vacation.

The party’s action was based on a decision by the Sura council, the Muslim religious body which decides the political actions of the party. The Sura told the members of the party to freeze their membership in the Knesset and attempt to form a partnership with the Joint Arab List in declaring a “resignation of all Arab representatives in the Knesset” in protest over the “Israeli aggression in the Al-Aqsa mosque.”

Despite the dramatic declaration, the decision of Ra’am was coordinated with Foreign Minister Lapid and is first and foremost an attempt to deal with the predicament of party leader Mansour Abbas, who was under pressure from his constituents to protest the riots and police intervention on Temple Mount, where 470 Arabs were arrested Friday during disturbances. Yet it is unclear whether the freeze will end as soon as the Knesset returns or whether the party will continue the current crisis in the government and cause it to topple.

MK Walid Taha (Ra’am) said that “I am not optimistic about the future of the coalition. I would have expected the government to act differently after Jews ascended and made a provocation at Al-Aqsa mosque but it allowed hundreds of fascists to go there. The price will likely be the dissolution of the coalition.”

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