United Arab List Expected to Support Bennett-Lapid Government

In recent weeks UAL party leader Mansour Abbas has reiterated that if any side managed to form a government, he would consider supporting it if it agrees to his demands

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UAL leader Mansour Abbas at a press conference earlier in the month.
UAL leader Mansour Abbas at a press conference earlier in the month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Sources in Yesh Atid and the “change” bloc believe that the United Arab List will support the establishment of a government headed by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, if such a government is presented to the Knesset.

In recent weeks UAL party leader Mansour Abbas has reiterated that if any side managed to form a government, he would consider supporting it if it agrees to his demands. In the past few weeks Lapid has had several conversations with Abbas in which the option of setting up a rotation government with his support was discussed. Although UAL has not declared its support yet, the assumption is that’s what Abbas intends to do.

According to Yesh Atid sources who are talking to UAL, the party’s primary demands are economic. Abbas is demanding budget allocations to fund education and the war on crime organizations in the Arab community, as well as opening new police stations in Arab areas. Abbas also wants the money allocated through a Knesset committee that he will head. The sources say he is also demanding the cancellation of the “Kaminitz Law,” which increases the penalties for illegal construction, but that he did not demand the invalidation of or changes to the nation-state law. No additional demands that could be viewed by coalition partners as “nationalist” or “volatile” were made, the sources said. Abbas also wants to be a deputy Knesset speaker.

Sources in the UAL assume that Abbas plans to support the Lapid-Bennett government, because he fears for his future if there’s a fifth election, for two reasons. One is the rage directed at him during Operation Guardian of the Walls after visiting one of the torched synagogues in Lod with Mayor Yair Revivo, and pledging to work to rebuild it. Many in the party, including some of its religious leaders, demanded that Abbas resign. The UAL holds primary elections for party leader, and according to the party constitution, if there’s a fifth election, the UAL will also have an election for party leader. Supporting the new government would help Abbas avoid a primary at a time when so many people are angry at him.

Another reason, UAL sources say, is that recent polls conducted for the party show a considerable drop in its support, which could put it below the electoral threshold required to enter the Knesset. In a poll released by Channel 13 News and Camil Fuchs on May 23, the UAL also doesn’t pass the threshold. A parallel poll by Mano Geva and Channel 12 News shows the UAL just barely clearing the threshold.

Yesh Atid has also been holding talks with the Joint List, in particular with Ahmed Tibi from Ta’al. Yesh Atid wants to get to a situation that if needed, additional MKs from the Joint List will either abstain in the vote or absent themselves. Under such circumstances, Balad will definitely oppose this, Ta’al might agree, while Hadash is wavering.

In the past Abbas weighed asking for a deputy minister post – much like the way the ultra-Orthodox for decades were government players without actually being cabinet members, only deputy ministers. But after the recent Gaza operation, Abbas dropped this idea.

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