A coalition has formed to oust Netanyahu, with Naftali Bennett of the right wing, Zionist, settlement-supporting Yemina now prime minister. That’s about the extent of what the various political parties have in common.
Ra’am—the Arab political party that is part of this coalition—is part of that coalition. That means, they helped make this new government possible. In this case, with such a difficult fight against Netanyahu, Ra’am was crucial.
Ra’am is hoping to make the best out of this deal. They have noted that Bennett and Yair Lapid (leader of secular/centrist party Yesh Atid) pledged large sums of money to support various elements of Arab society: “unspecified economic development funds” (30 billion shekels), combatting violence and organized crime (2.5 million shekels), and infrastructure (20 million shekels).
While this is not all bad, it’s important to ask what kind of concessions will be made in order for the money to come through.
It seems dangerous to be willing to be part of a government led by someone who has actively supported settlement building in the West Bank. Bennett was formerly part of the Yesha Council which represents settlements in the West Bank.
We know the argument: If you work from within, you have more opportunities to make change. Even Mansour Abbas, head of Ra’am made this very point, stating:
“I say here clearly and frankly: when the very establishment of this government is based on our support…we will be able to influence it and accomplish great things for our Arab society.”
This argument is hard to make in general, and even harder in a society whose laws are based on principles like the Nation-State Law, which stipulates that Israel is the homeland first and foremost of the Jewish people.
Here’s what Diana Buttu, a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer in Haifa, has said of Naftali Bennet, the future Israeli Prime Minister:
“‘I have debated Bennett, and he says quite openly, “You are not my equal”’”
Bennett surely understands his position as part of the Chosen People. After all, he introduced Article 7 of the Nation-State Law, which includes the idea that “there should be no regional Arab majority anywhere in Israel.” Interestingly, this includes the Negev, an area with a low Jewish population. It is also an area in which Ra’am says it will be pushing to have three unrecognized Bedouin villages officially recognized within the first 45 days if this new government. This is already angering the Zionists.
One thing seems fairly certain, as long as governments in Israel (whether they have the “right-wing” label or not) uphold the laws and the basic foundational ideology of the State of Israel, Palestinians can be expected to continue to suffer.