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Israel’s escalation with Gaza won’t change coalition chances – analysis

CM 13/05/2021

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 A historic moment in Jewish-Arab coexistence was supposed to take place on Wednesday night, when the Knesset could have approved a coalition in which three right-wing parties were supported by the Ra’am (United Arab List) Party of MK Mansour Abbas.

Progress was being made toward completing the coalition deals between seven parties from Yamina to Ra’am. The portfolios had all been decided, compromises had been made and Yamina head Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid told their lawyers  to move full speed ahead in drafting the agreements. 
But then the violence escalated, a meeting of Abbas with Lapid and Bennett was postponed and the historic moments Wednesday night ended up being not of Jewish-Arab coexistence but Jews and Arabs trying to lynch each other on the streets of mixed cities. 
After such scenes, there were those who started reporting that the so-called change coalition was also on its way to a lynching. New frameworks were touted for a right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 
The Maariv newspaper reported on Thursday morning that Netanyahu had spent much of Tuesday considering political options with Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin and another political adviser before getting around to deal with the security crisis. 
One idea raised by a Knesset member was a three-way rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office: First Bennett for a year and a half, then Netanyahu for two years and then six months for New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar. A source in the “change camp” said on Wednesday that if the escalation continued another week, hope for a deal with Abbas would be “lost” and Israel would be doomed to a fifth election.
Such ideas should not surprise anyone after the gruesome scenes of hate on the streets of Bat Yam, Lod, and Acre. 

But the thugs on those streets are not responsible for building a coalition. And with all due respect to the thugs, their hatred for those who practice a different religion pales in comparison to the intense animosity those who are forming a government feel for Netanyahu.
Bennett, Lapid, Sa’ar and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avidgor Liberman have competed in how far they will go in blaming Netanyahu for everything that has gone wrong this week. None of them has specifically accused Netanyahu of starting the escalation for his own political benefit, because they know Hamas started it, but they have come close.
When Sa’ar tweeted on Thursday about how the “wretched functioning of the police” was due to purposely poor political appointments that were intended to help Netanyahu, he did not sound like someone about to give Netanyahu another two years in office.  
Abbas, by contrast, did not sound like someone about to be “lost.”
The recent spate of violence between Arabs and Jews in mixed cities should not end chances of forming a coalition that has the support of Jewish and Arab MKs, Abbas said in an interview with Army Radio on Thursday morning.
Abbas told interviewers Udi Segal and Keren Marciano that he stopped coalition talks, because they would be inappropriate in such a sensitive time. But he said they would be restarted immediately after the escalation ends.
“I am not giving up on future cooperation,” Abbas said. “It could be that these incidents emphasize the need for true partnership with understanding, initiating together.”
Abbas went further, saying that a partnership of Jews and Arabs was “a goal in itself” and not merely “an instrument to something else.” The Ra’am leader said “protests are legitimate” but must be done within the law and without harming anyone.
With such optimism coming from Ra’am, that  historic moment in Jewish-Arab coexistence that was supposed to happen this week will undoubtedly still happen after the escalation ends, well before Lapid’s mandate to form a government concludes on June 2. 

Source: Jerusalem Post

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