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Arab Israeli politicians consider joining efforts to topple current government

Some of the Arab-Israeli politicians who are in the opposition might opt against serving as a political security net for the very destabilized government of Naftali Bennett.
Arab Joint List leader Ayman Odeh attends a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at the president's residence, Jerusalem, April 5, 2021.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked attacked this morning head of the Arab Joint List opposition party Ayman Odeh. “Ayman Odeh incites against the State of Israel and its institutions. We won’t make agreements with him. His place is outside Israel’s Knesset,” tweeted Shaked. The minister was reacting to a video posted on Facebook yesterday by Odeh from the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, for the month of Ramadan. Odeh argued that Arab-Israelis  serving in the security forces were humiliating their own people and called on them to throw down their weapons and to quit their positions.

This incident may have great implications for the stability of the coalition, which is already very much at stake. On April 6, Knesset member Idit Silman of the Yamina party, which is headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, announced she was quitting the coalition and joining the opposition. Her move left Bennett without the narrow majority he had so far in the parliament, of 61 legislators out of 120. Yesterday, Silman closed the door to all attempts to convince her to retract her decision and stay in the coalition. An announcement she issued said, “The decision to end my path in the current coalition is one of principle and thus it is final. I call on my colleagues in the coalition and the party to express the majority of the Israelis’ position and form a Zionist and nationalist government in the current Knesset.” 

Bennett is now faced with a draw in the Knesset, instead of a majority. Still, the opposition is composed not only of right-wingers supporting opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu and eager to topple Bennett. There are also the six Knesset members of the Arab Joint List. Party leaders wish for the current government to fall in order to see their rivals from the Muslim Ra’am party, headed by Mansour Abbas, fail in their mission to integrate into the coalition. That being said, they also know that the voters they represent do not wish for Netanyahu to return to power.

This is in fact the headache experience by some of the members of the Joint List: On the one hand, they would not shed tears over the dissolution of the Knesset and the collapse of the government headed by Bennett, while also hurting Ra’am’s campaign to benefit the Arab community.  On the other hand, they would not wish to be known as having indirectly helped return Netanyahu to power. 

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