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Participation in Israeli coalition government opens new chapter for Arab parties

Muslim Ra’am under Mansour Abbas made history June 13, becoming the first Arab party ever to be part of the coalition and government.
Head of Israel's right-wing Yamina party Naftali Bennett (L) chats with Mansour Abbas, head of the conservative Islamic Raam party, during a special session to vote on a new government at the Knesset, Jerusalem, June 13, 2021.

By one vote, with a majority of 60 to 59, Israel's new government was approved and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett sworn in as the 13th prime minister of Israel. The rotation government headed by Yamina and Yesh Atid that has been negotiated for the past month was finally authorized and put an end to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 years in power. From today, we can say “Prime Minister Bennett” and “leader of the opposition Netanyahu.” And if that’s not enough, a mere hour after the new government was sworn in, US President Joe Biden called Bennett to congratulate him on entering office. Everyone remembers that Netanyahu had to wait nearly a month before he received a call from the American president after his inauguration in January. 

But with due respect to the change in government in Israel, real history was made last night at the Knesset chamber with the entrance of an Arab party — Ra’am — into the coalition for the first time, and its participation in shaping the face of the government in Israel. After a long journey of delegitimization of the Arab voice and exclusion of the Arab public, Knesset member Mansour Abbas, with his colleagues of the Ra’am list, changed the rules of the game.

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