Mansour Abbas: Israel’s most unpredictable politician – editorial

One tedious aspect of Israeli politics is that politicians are so predictable.

You know that when Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks, he will ignore the Palestinians; that when the leader of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, stands in front of a microphone, he is going to skewer Bennett; that haredi politicians are going to ruin the kashrut reform; that Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman is going to criticize Haredi politicians; and that Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg will stop condemning Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh’s slanderous remarks about Israel at the Glasgow climate change conference attended by the Meretz politician.

It is as if the whole world is reading a worn out script.

Except for the leader of Ra’am, Mansour Abbas. You never really know what he’s going to do, who he’s going to join forces with, or what he’s going to say, which makes him one of the most refreshing figures on the Israeli political scene today.

Abbas, who stepped into the political deck earlier this year by stepping off the Joint Arab List and leading Ra’am as an independent party, surprised everyone by showing his willingness to be part of any government to have an impact and be very needy. funds for the Arab sector of the country.

MANSOUR ABBAS, head of the Ra’am party, seen on June 2 after signing the coalition agreement. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI / FLASH90)

Following the March elections, he delivered a decisive speech in Nazareth declaring his willingness to work with all parts of the Israeli political spectrum.

What made that speech so different and noteworthy was that it didn’t stick to the predictable script. He did not criticize Israel, as other Arab MPs reflexively do, for racism, oppression, “apartheid” and “occupation.” Instead, his message was one of conciliation, of working together so that everyone benefits.

And he was even more surprising when he signed the coalition agreement in June, marking the first time that an Arab party would be part of the ruling coalition of the Jewish state. And not just any Arab party, but an Islamist party.

Abbas surprised again this week when he pledged with Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism to move NIS 100 million out of the billions that the Arab sector is slated to deliver in the new budget to haredi parties to help their communities. That’s right, Abbas is taking money destined for the Arab sector and passing it on to the ultra-Orthodox.


In Abbas’s account, he was moved by a speech Gafni made in the Knesset saying that this country will never accept the non-mainstream, Arabs and Haredim, and that the “weaker elements “of the country must stick together.

Others say it was nothing more than a canny political move. Abbas likes life in the governing coalition, any governing coalition, so when this government ceases to exist, possibly to be replaced by a right-wing Likud-led government, he wants to make sure he has allies on the right who can help you join. that coalition too.

Either way, there is something refreshing and even magnanimous about the gesture, something that is sorely lacking these days when it often seems that coalition and opposition parties see each other as mortal enemies.

However, the gesture was not contagious.

As soon as Abbas made the offer, the leader of the Zionist Religious Party, Bezalel Smotrich, urged the haredi parties, his opposition allies, to reject him, saying that it is all part of a nefarious Muslim plan to present themselves as the sponsors of the Jews. .

And former finance minister Israel Katz (Likud) responded by saying during a Kan Bet interview that Abbas is to the Islamic Movement in Israel what Ismail Haniyeh is to Hamas, trying to link Abbas and Ra’am in the minds of the Hamas listeners. and terror.

When Katz was asked, if that was really the case, why Netanyahu tried to woo that same Abbas to form a government that he hoped to form earlier in the year, Katz complained and complained and had no real answer.

Here was a senior Likud official criticizing Abbas and trying to delegitimize him and his party, when just a few months ago the head of his own party was trying to attract the same leader and party to his coalition. As unpredictable as Abbas is, this was the exact opposite: blatant cynicism and hypocrisy that was hardly surprising.

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