Israel's Coalition Talks Must Resume Once Gaza Fighting Stops, Islamist Party Leader Says

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Mansour Abbas speaks at a protest, last year.
Mansour Abbas speaks at a protest, last year.Credit: Moti Milrod
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

Coalition talks must resume once hostilities between Gaza and Israel die down, United Arab List Chairman Mansour Abbas said Wednesday, two days after freezing negotiations over the escalation of violence in Jerusalem and Gaza.

"The only option is to resume the political negotiations to build a government after the shooting dies down," he said.

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Speaking on Radio Makan, Abbas added: "We have a real opportunity to fulfill an important role in Israeli politics, for the benefit of our society. No government can arise without UAL."

He also said the party is negotiating with "both sides," referring to the camp supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to that coalescing around Yesh Atid Chairman Yaid Lapid and Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett, in order to reach a decision that benefits the Arab public.

Abbas' statement was made at the behest of Yair Lapid, who still aims to build a coalition with Bennett and Abbas. 

Sources in Yamina told Haaretz on Tuesday that they won't be signing any coalition agreements with anybody until UAL's intentions are clarified. The negotiating teams from the various parties suspended talks on Tuesday over the security situation, a day after UAL did so. 

Bennett blasted Netanyahu's party on Facebook on Wednesday, writing that "Likud has morphed from a governing party into a party that has failed at managing the nation and is negligently leading it from failure to disaster." He urged the caretaker government "not to end the current round in Gaza until Hamas pays a high price" and said Yamina would give absolute backing to any move the government makes that is designed to restore security, "irrespective of any political consideration."

Meanwhile, the far-right Religious Zionism party condemned Bennett for "not only failing to remove the possibility of creating a government with terrorism supporters who are rioting against the Jews of Lod, Ramle and the Negev, but at this very time, he continues to intensively negotiate with them to forge a government."

On continuing the negotiations with UAL, Lapid commented: "Our lives will not be run by Hamas. The events of the last week cannot be an excuse to leave Netanyahu and his government in place. Exactly the opposite: they're the reason why he needs to be replaced as fast as possible. I have no intentions of stopping the democratic process of building a new government because of Hamas."

A source involved in the talks between UAL and Lapid said earlier this week that Abbas' decision to gear down and wait is "the requisite tactical move." However, the situation is fluid, the source said, and added that developments in the days to come could decide the chances of cooperation with UAL.

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