Arab MK: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamist Ra’am party. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The political kingmaker of the moment, Ra’am party chief Mansour Abbas, said on Tuesday that he’s optimistic about a unity government, and he’s willing to be part of it.

However, Abbas who has been uncertain quantity throughout the post-election period, cautioned to the Kan public broadcaster that “you can’t say it’s over until it’s over.”

The support of Abbas’ four-MK party is a must for any coalition to reach the needed majority of 61 MKs in order to form a government, given the current political alignments.

Ra’am broke off talks with the Yesh Atid-led negotiators when the Gaza fighting started, saying it was not the time for it. But has reentered the picture since the ceasefire took hold.

Meanwhile, Naftali Bennett wants to lead the country as prime minister, but as of Tuesday he was having a hard time leading his own small Yamina party into the nascent coalition with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid.

Three of his party members have announced they are against joining the so-called “change coalition” to be composed of right, center and left-wing parties.

Roni Sassover, who occupied the 13th slot on Yamina’s electoral list in the March election, said on Tuesday that she did not support the formation of a government with left-wing parties, who do not share her worldview.

Saasover joined Shai Maimon, who was 10th on the list, and Asher Cohen, who was 15th. However, it’s damage that Bennett can sustain, since only six members of Yamina were elected to the Knesset, and it won’t reduce his leverage in negotiations.

Perhaps a more serious obstacle to finalizing the coalition is the refusal of Labor leader Merav Michaeli to yield her seat on the Judicial Appointments Committee to Yamina No. 2 Ayelet Shaked, who is reportedly making it her condition for joining.

“My negotiations weren’t with Ayelet Shaked,” Michaeli said at the Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat, according to The Times of Israel. She was also quoted as saying that her agreements were with Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid, not Shaked.

“We reached agreements and we still stand by them,” Michaeli added.

Nevertheless, according to Channel 12 news, Shaked is expected to get her way in the end.

“Let them decide if they want a government or not,” the network quotes Yamina sources as saying.

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