Netanyahu tasked to assemble next government, Arab-Israeli parties recommend no one

Contrary to last year, neither the Arab Joint List nor Mansour Abbas' Raam party recommended to the president any candidate for the formation of the next government.

Reuven Rivlin speaks with Mansour Abbas during consultations on who might form the next coalition government, at the president’s residence in Jerusalem, 5 April 2021

Afif Abu Much reports in Al-Monitor:

President Reuven Rivlin tasked today, April 6, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the mission of composing the next government. On April 5, Netanyahu received a larger endorsement for the mission compared with Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid — 52 Knesset members supported his candidacy versus 45 for Lapid. New Hope and its leader Gideon Saar declined to recommend to the president a candidate. The two Arab parties — Raam and the Joint List — took the same course.

Apparently, Saar’s refusal to recommend either candidate pushed the Arab legislators to refrain from making their own recommendation. With Yamina recommending its own leader Naftali Bennett and with Saar recommending no one, Raam and the Arab Joint List could no longer tip the balance.

The Joint List is composed of three factions. Hadash and Balad announced early on the morning of April 5 that they would not recommend a candidate. But the third faction, Ta’al, took its time. Its head Ahmad Tibi chose not to reveal his decision to the public at the same time as his colleagues. He preferred to wait and see what Saar and his New Hope party decided to do. After Saar made his decision, Tibi made his own. Evidently, he was no longer able to tip the scales in Lapid’s favor. Saar’s decision also deposed Raam party Chairman Mansour Abbas from his role as “kingmaker.”

The final outcome of this was that the entire Joint List and Raam chose not to recommend anyone. This was the exact opposite of what happened last year, when the 15 members of the Joint List decided to recommend Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz to form the government.

Reflecting on the discussion that took place last year in the Arab community — over whom to recommend to the president — and comparing that to what happened yesterday, it is hard to believe that we are talking about the same Arab public and electorate.

If, last year, the Arab electorate practically forced its representatives on the Joint List slate to recommend Gantz, this year there was greater apathy and indifference to what happened in the president’s residence. The reason for this goes back to Gantz’s decision to join the Netanyahu coalition last year, even if it meant turning his back on the Arab electorate that ensured he would be asked by the president to form the next government.

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