United Arab List Chief, on Israeli TV: Time … To Seek Common Ground
Mansour Abbas, head of Israel’s United Arab List, which surprisingly won four parliamentary seats in last week’s elections, gave a primetime speech Thursday, outlining his position ahead of the coming weeks’ coalition negotiations.
Abbas, who prior to the election refused to rule out joining a right-wing coalition headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, told Israel’s Jewish population, in Hebrew, that he believes “in a courageous vision of peace, mutual security, partnership and tolerance. My hand is outstretched … to create an opportunity for a shared life in this sacred land. The time has come to hear each other, to study the other’s narrative and seek common ground. Our reality has changed and we refuse to acknowledge it.”
Abbas’ United Arab List is the political wing of the Southern Branch of Israel’s Islamic movement, considered closely aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. With four seats in the next parliament, Abbas will be a kingmaker of sorts, though Thursday’s speech remained intentionally vague regarding his political preferences.
While Netanyahu’s extreme right-wing partners have insisted they will not join a government supported by Abbas, and despite Netanyahu’s own pre-election promises not to form such a government, if the United Arab List does join hands with the prime minister, it may be enough to put him over the top and afford him a fifth consecutive term. If Abbas chooses to support the anti-Netanyahu bloc led by Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, that coalition would also likely be able to establish a government and dethrone the incumbent.