Islamist Party Won't Vote With Bennett Coalition in Protest of Joint List Talks, Sources Say

United Arab List leader didn't directly address party member Walid Taha's announcement, but said any negotiations with rival Arab party are coordinated with him

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Mansour Abbas (L) and Walid Taha at the Knesset, April.
Mansour Abbas (L) and Walid Taha at the Knesset, April.Credit: Noam Moskowitz/Knesset
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

The United Arab List party will not vote with the coalition or participate in Knesset committee meetings until further notice, lawmaker Walid Taha from the Islamist party said Sunday. 

Party sources said the move is in protest of talks over the past few days between representatives of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's coalition and the Joint List, a three-way predominantly Arab alliance, on enlisting its lawmakers in voting for the state budget in November.

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The Joint List, of which the United Arab List used to be a member, is not a member of the ruling coalition.

The United Arab List's chairman, Mansour Abbas, has not commented on the issue of future votes by his party members, but said in a statement following Taha's remarks that any negotiations between the Joint List and the coalition are coordinated with him.

A Joint List source, meanwhile, denied in a conversation with Haaretz reports that the party is involved in negotiations with the coalition.

Also on Sunday, the government approved the transfer of two agencies responsible for development of the Bedouin community in the Negev from the Economy Ministry to the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry. The move was part of the coalition agreements signed with the United Arab List, but was moved forward by a week.

The Islamist party expressed discontent over the fact the transfer of the two agencies hadn't been approved yet, and argued they were not functioning properly under the Economy Ministry. 

The coalition agreement with the UAL left the party the freedom to vote as it sees fit on national and issues of religion and state. Last week, the coalition faced difficulties with Abbas' party in regard to two Knesset votes.

One was the extension of the temporary amendment to the Citizenship Law that denied residency rights to Palestinians from the West Bank who are married to Israelis. The United Arab List initially opposed extending the amendment, as they have over the years. They later reached a compromise in which two lawmakers, Abbas and Taha, voted for the amendment, and two others abstained. The compromise did not result in the majority needed to pass the extension.

The second law with which the UAL took issue was the extension of an emergency order allowing the military to establish a special panel to revoke exemption from service for women who falsely claim they cannot serve on the basis of religious observance. After the UAL refused to support the law, it was taken off the agenda and has not been brought up for a vote.

On Sunday morning, UAL lawmaker Mazen Ghanayim told the Arabic radio station Makan: “I will take apart the coalition if the government attacks Gaza. We have red lines. We will wait to verify the nature of the new government.”

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