Abbas: No One Sold Negev to Ra’am

YERUSHALAYIM -
Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas (center). (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Islamist Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas took the podium in the Knesset on Sunday, speaking after Naftali Bennett and Binyamin Netanyahu.

Addressing the plenum in Arabic, Abbas denying any wrongful deals with coalition partners for lavish funding of Arab communities in the Negev:

“No one sold the Negev to Ra’am. The Negev remains in Israel, its residents are citizens of Israel,” he said.

Abbas says it’s time for both the incoming Israeli government and opposition to advance Jewish-Arab “dialogue, so that we understand each other and not view each other as enemies.”

“We belong to other nations, to other religions, to other communities. There is something that connects all Israelis and that’s our citizenship,” he says, adding that he hopes to bolster Jewish-Arab ties in Israel further.

Just before he began his remarks, Likud MK Shlomo Karhi asked him to reveal his coalition agreements.

“I’m not sure you want me to reveal the contacts that I’ve had,” quiped Abbas, referring to talks with Likud’s Netanyahu, The Times of Israel reported.

Meanwhile, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh declared that henceforth Israel will be “freed of the doctrine of ‘yes Bibi’ or ‘no Bibi,’” as Netanyahu is finally shunted to the opposition.

But Odeh was less than overjoyed over Netanyahu’s successors. “This is a bad government,” he said, noting that the interior minister will be “extreme right-wing” Ayelet Shaked and the finance minister “extreme right-wing” Avigdor Liberman.

Odeh claims the new government will harm Arabs in Yerushalayim and the Negev and does not represent any sort of ideal of Jewish-Arab cooperation due to its inclusion of Ra’am.

“We are looking for a different Jewish-Arab partnership” based on peace and social equality, he says.

Most of the Joint List will vote against the government, the Times said.