Historic change: Arab parties are legitimate partners in Israel government
June 11 (UPI) -- The next government is not going to be a typical one for the citizens of the state of Israel, and especially for members of the Palestinian Arab minority, who are 20% of Israels population. This is the first time the Zionist political partiesforming the government are including an Arab party.
It is ironic that the prime minister of this government would be Naftali Bennett. Bennett is the leader of the radical right-wing political party Yamina, whose ideologies and interests contradict the Arab partys interests, and which has opposed Arab participation in the coalition or government. His national-religious political movement, which represents many Jewish settlers, signed the coalition agreement with Raam, the Islamic Arab party. Advertisement
In the 73-year history of Israel, it was an unwritten rule that any government coalition would be formed only by the Jewish Zionist parties. There was only one exception, when the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin relied on the support of an Arab party in the wake of the Oslo Peace Accords in the 1990s. The agreement, however, did not formalize that partys entry into the ruling coalition. Advertisement
The chain of events Rabin triggered was considered an unforgivable sin by the Israeli right, which depicted Rabin as a traitor -- as they do now with Bennett -- and which ultimately led to Rabins assassination. RELATED 2 Palestinian Authority military officers, 1 other killed in Israeli raid
What drove the first Arab party into a ruling coalition now was not the desire for a peace agreement. It was the poor state of Israeli politics after four election rounds in two years without a clear winner, combined with the strong desire of the opposition, called the "Change Bloc," to oust longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Arabs did not forget Netanyahus hostile remarks during the previous elections. Thats when he urged the settlers to cast their votes against the Arabs who "are voting in droves." RELATED Israeli Knesset to vote Sunday on proposal to replace Netanyahu as PM
After failing in the latest election to discourage the Arab vote and ensure a majority of his own, it was Netanyahu who first understood the potential need to cooperate with the Arab parties. After all other efforts to form a ruling coalition failed, he tried to lure Raam leader Mansour Abbas to his side even before Bennett did, but to no avail.
"I say here clearly and frankly: When the very establishment of this government is based on our support ... we will be able to influence it and accomplish great things for our Arab society," Abbas said. RELATED Irans Ali-Akbar Mohtashamipour, co-founder of Hezbollah, dies of COVID-19
For decades, Palestinian Arab political parties would not join Israeli governments that continued to support the occupation of their Palestinian brothers, oppressed them and denied their basic rights. And they were kept out of leadership coalitions by the Jewish parties fear of cooperating with them.
Abbas call for pragmatism means that he will support political coalitions committed to meeting the immediate and urgent demands of the Arab minority in Israel. Chief among those demands is addressing the issues of violence, house demolitions, planning in new Arab villages and towns, education and equality.
Abbas approach was rejected by the rest of the Palestinian political parties, and thus split up the Joint List, which was a political alliance of four of the Arab political parties in Israel: Balad, Hadash, Taal and Raam, that they had formed for the previous elections.
The February 2021 election results meant Raam entered Israels parliament, the Knesset, with four members. Those four can prove decisive in this politically fractured situation. Advertisement