Religious Right Refuses Ra’am Relationship, Relegating Reeling Republic to Repeated Runoffs
Israel is still awaiting the official final results of its March 23 elections, but that hasn’t stopped politicians and would-be kingmakers from sounding their plans and terms for joining any future government. On Thursday, it appeared Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would not have enough right-wing supporters in the 120-member parliament to form the required 61-seat majority, even including the Yamina party headed by Naftali Bennet, who has said he is open to other kinds of coalitions as well. Some lawmakers in Netanyahu’s Likud party, in their plight to eke out the narrow majority, said they would be willing to rely on the votes of the United Arab List (“Ra’am”), an Islamic party which has not ruled out joining Netanyahu in return for pro-Arab policies and reforms. Netanyahu, who in the past three election cycles skewered his left-wing rivals for even considering a similar partnership, has so far remained silent. Yet his extreme-right allies, the Religious Zionism movement, on Thursday quickly extinguished all talk of such a coalition, saying they refused to sit with “terror supporters.” That leaves Israel with the (longshot) possibility of a center-left government headed by Bennet, or – in the most likely and most depressing scenario – a fifth go at the polls sometime around October.