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Abbas suspends coalition talks due to escalation

CM 10/05/2021

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Ra’am (United Arab List) leader Mansour Abbas suspended negotiations over his party joining a new governing coalition on Monday due to the deteriorating security situation, putting the formation of a government in jeopardy.
Abbas postponed a meeting that was set to take place on Monday afternoon with Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, in which they were expected to finalize a coalition deal, and talks with other parties were halted.
Sources in Abbas’s party said the delay was unconnected to reports that he met on Saturday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who begged him not to join a government led by Bennett and Lapid.
Until the violence stops, the negotiations would not resume, even if it would take weeks, Ra’am officials said.
After optimism in Yamina and Yesh Atid on Monday morning that a government could be sworn in by the end of the week, sources in the parties on Monday night said it would have to wait until after next Monday’s Shavuot holiday.
When the extent of the violence was still unclear, Lapid had called on the heads of the parties in the coalition he is trying to form to make the necessary compromises to complete the process of building a government by the end of the week.
“I know everyone wants to secure achievements for their party. I do, too,” Lapid said. “But it is far more important to secure achievements for the country, for the public, for our children. Israel needs to know that there is a new generation of leaders who don’t think about their own interests. The public won’t forgive anyone who prevents the formation of a new government just because they insist on another ministry.”

After the weekend’s negotiations, the gaps that remain between the parties were not wide, he said.
“We can swear in a new government in a few days,” Lapid said. “A new, functioning government based on wide-ranging agreements.”
To that end, Labor leader Merav Michaeli reportedly agreed to take the Transportation and Public Security portfolios for her party instead of the Interior Ministry. Michaeli’s decision would mean that Ayelet Shaked of Yamina could become interior minister and leave the Justice portfolio she sought to New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar.
Michaeli said her party would not take any steps to harm the effort to form a government even though her party was the third largest in the nascent coalition.
“We have made concessions in a way that no party has,” she said. “We are ready to close [the deal] today.”
Lapid said he would insist on the Knesset speaker’s position being given to his party. But he said he would not insist on keeping the Health portfolio for his No. 2 in Yesh Atid, MK Orna Barbivai, who has a background working in the health sector. Lapid said there were party leaders who had asked for the portfolio.
Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz, who is rumored to be given the portfolio, said he would not reopen Ben-Gurion Airport.
“The government’s handling of the airport has been a horrible failure during the entire coronavirus [crisis],” Horowitz said. “If we have arrived at a situation where most Israelis are vaccinated and the dangers are from abroad, we need to be stricter at Ben-Gurion Airport, which is the entry gate into Israel.”
Lapid complained that there was no redline of incitement that Netanyahu had not crossed to torpedo the formation of a unity government and force a fifth election.
Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) accused the prime minister of setting too many fires against the prospective incoming government in Jerusalem, adding that if Netanyahu were to quit, a Likud-led right-wing government could be formed immediately.
Coalition chairman Miki Zohar (Likud) said the escalation of violence dictated that Yamina and New Hope join a Likud-led government. The violence was escalated by Hamas because its leaders heard that Israel was about to have “a left-wing government,” he said.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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