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Israel Election Results: Mansour Abbas, Don’t Believe Netanyahu

Haaretz Editorial
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Mansour Abbas near his home in the town of Maghar, today.
Mansour Abbas near his home in the town of Maghar, today.Credit: Gil Eliahu
Haaretz Editorial

When it became known that United Arab List had crossed the electoral threshold and could win as many as five seats, party leader MK Mansour Abbas reiterated his campaign message: His party “is not pledged to any bloc or any candidate. We’re not in anyone’s pocket, right or left.” Abbas also said he would make his party’s joining a coalition contingent upon solving the Arab community’s problems and that he would seek “to influence things not only with parliamentary tools, but also government tools.”

Abbas’ message is being closely heard in Likud. On Wednesday, Minister Tzahi Hanegbi said that if Likud is unable to form a coalition, in order to avert a fifth election, it is possible that “Mansour Abbas will do what he said he would do throughout this campaign, that he would support any coalition that puts together a plan to address his community’s issues.” MK Miki Zohar tweeted a similar message: “All possible political options must be exhausted.”

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These voices attest to a partial alignment with the new tack taken by Benjamin Netanyahu in this election campaign, when he called himself “Abu Yair” and did a 180­-degree about­­­-face in his approach to Arab voters.

But no one should fall for Netanyahu’s cunning. There is no need to remind Abbas that Netanyahu is the one who has poisonously incited against the Arabs like no other leader, and that Netanyahu is second to none when it comes to delegitimizing the Arab citizen, the Arab vote and Arab MKs. His rebranding as “Abu Yair” is a cynical move that only underscores his political weakness.

Abbas is also well aware of the identity of the “natural” partners that make up the Netanyahu bloc. Thus, it’s hard to countenance the possibility that a list that represents the Arab public would provide the seal of approval for a government that includes Kahanists and racists like Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. That would be a crime against Arab Israelis.

Israel election 2021 final results.

Joining forces with Netanyahu wouldn’t just be a moral and strategic mistake, it would be pure naivete. Netanyahu’s word is worthless. Abbas knows very well that agreements with Netanyahu aren’t worth the paper they are written on, and that whoever shakes Netanyahu’s hand needs to check afterward that he still has all his fingers. If Abbas still has any doubts about this, he should call Benny Gantz, whom Netanyahu deceived before the whole world, while Shas chairman Arye Dery supposedly vouched for the rotation agreement. Abbas also ought to recall that Netanyahu prevented Israel from passing a national budget and dragged it to a fourth election in the midst of a pandemic – just to wiggle out of the rotation agreement.

Abbas must not be tempted to believe Netanyahu – the man who always makes promises but doesn’t promise to keep them.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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