Islamist Party Leader Says Will Be 'Part of the Coalition' as Lapid's Government Deadline Nears

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Mansour Abbas arrives at coalition talks at Kfar Maccabiah, on Tuesday.
Mansour Abbas arrives at coalition talks at Kfar Maccabiah, on Tuesday.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

United Arab List Chairman Mansour Abbas said on Tuesday he was "optimistic" about the chances of forming a new coalition, going into meetings with leaders of the anti-Netanyahu bloc at Kfar Maccabiah in central Israel.

Asked by reporters whether his party would be part of the ruling coalition or sit in the opposition, Abbas said it will be "part of the coalition."

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Abbas, who made greater involvement in Israel's politics a key election promise, also emphasized the need to finalize the "good plans" negotiation teams came up with for some pressing issues the Arab community faces.

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His Islamist party, which split from the Joint List, is focusing on finalizing agreements with Yamina, and particularly its number two, Ayelet Shaked.

On Monday, United Arab List Chairman Mansour Abbas met with Yamina lawmaker Ayelet Shaked as part of negotiations toward the creation of a coalition government headed by Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.

Members of the parties opposed to the continuation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule believe Abbas will support the formation of a Bennett-Lapid government if it comes to a vote in the Knesset. Abbas has said a number of times in recent weeks that he will consider backing any coalition if it agrees to his party’s demands. 

Abbas wants funds to be earmarked for a program to boost education in the Arab community and combat organized crime, and to head a Knesset committee that would direct the money to it.

The sources also said he had demanded the revocation of a contentious 2017 law that made punishment for construction violations much more severe and has the most effect on Arab towns, where the planning process can take decades. He has also asked to be named as one of the Knesset’s deputy speakers, according to the sources, but has not demanded that the Nation-State Law be amended or revoked.

Shaked is expected to be appointed interior minister in the future government, and Abbas hopes to appoint a lawmaker from his party as her deputy.

Moreover, Shaked demands that she be given a spot on the Knesset Judicial Appointments Committee instead of Labor Chairwoman Merav Michaeli, saying that this is her condition for Yamina joining the government.

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