Likud Coalition Whip Says Won’t Rule Out Gov’t Backed by Arab Party

Mansour Abbas, of the Ra’am party, meets with President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence on April 16, 2019, to name his candidate for prime minister. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90, File)

Likud MK and coalition chairman Miki Zohar said Wednesday that he doesn’t rule out a partnership with an Arab party as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seems to struggle to form a coalition.

The head of the Islamist Ra’am party, Mansour Abbas, has emerged as an unlikely kingmaker as neither political bloc appears able to form a government.

Zohar told Yediot that the Likud should do everything in its power to avoid another election.

“It is our duty to do everything we can to prevent a fifth election,” Zohar said. “All the existing political options must be exhausted in order to form a government that will work for all the citizens of Israel, because that is what’s important for our country at the moment.”

Zohar’s statement came despite Netanyahu’s past promises that his party would rely neither on the Arab faction nor on its leader, Abbas, to form a government, even if his bloc was short of seats.

Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi also hinted at a possible partnership with the Islamist party, if the deal with Yamina leader Naftali Bennett does not pan out.

“This opens the door to options that are currently undesirable but may be better than fifth elections,” said Hanegbi. “One of them is of course that Mansour Abbas will do what he promised throughout his campaign – support any coalition that drafts a plan to address his sector’s problems.”

Later Wednesday, when asked by Channel 12 news about such a potential scenario, Abbas replied, “Ra’am’s approach is to not rule out anyone who doesn’t rule us out. If a ruling party makes contact, Ra’am will hold the process appropriately and respectfully, our partners would be a ruling party and a candidate for prime minister, not their satellite candidate.”

He said that he hasn’t yet been contacted by Netanyahu.