It might now be the time to believe the mantra of Mansour Abbas, the head of the Ra’am party, about their aim of leading to a paradigm shift that would remake the involvement of Arab Society in the State of Israel. For three weeks, Israeli politics had remained on edge because of the party, as it had chosen to freeze its participation in the coalition, which had already lost its majority. Without the four seats of Ra’am, the coalition would have become a minority, but the comeback of the Islamist Arab party had become more difficult because of the shifting circumstances.
In fact, as the troubles of the government continued to grow, many had been left wondering if Ra’am would have a coalition to return to. During their timeout, the opposition, led by the Likud party, had made a number of claims that it was on the verge of getting the Knesset dissolved and holding fresh elections, as there would be more defectors from the coalition. Last Wednesday, these efforts finally hit a crescendo when the opposition submitted a bill for dissolving the Knesset. This had resulted in a great deal of political stress and many were pushed into believing that the government’s collapse could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
However, Likud had pulled the bill at the last minute because they realized that they did not possess enough votes to pass it with Ra’am deciding to return to the coalition. The reason for Ra’am’s step back was because of the tensions that had occurred at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which had angered the party’s voter base. The party had hoped that the issue would die down in the weeks away from the government, but the matter was unsolved. Ra’am had said that Jordan would determine a status quo for the holy site, but Prime Minister Naftali Bennett refused to listen to foreign dictates
Abbas was put under pressure even further when Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the Hamas terror group, called him ‘Abu Righal’ for supporting a government violating the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He is a pre-Islamic traitor and Abbas had received a lot of threats after this labeling, which resulted in him requiring additional security. All of that was compounded on Wednesday morning, just hours before Ra’am was to announce how it would proceed in regard to the coalition, when Shireen Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera journalist, was shot in the head by as yet an unidentified party.
This resulted in an immediate outcry from the Palestinian Authority, the Arab street and Ra’am itself and the press conference had been pushed back. Nonetheless, Abbas announced to the press that they would return to the coalition. The decision was taken despite the divisions within the party and under great political risk, but there have been some tangible achievements, including budgetary wins, the promise of the government to work on the Temple Mount matter and recognition of new villages. But, the goal of the party is to carve a new path for Arabs and it believes now is the time to do so.