Are Muslims Holding the Keys to Israel’s Kingdom?

Israel was on pins and needles over the past 48 hours, and the Muslim lawmakers causing all the anxiety were eating it up

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Mansour Abbas
Mansour Abbas crowed that both the government and the opposition were waiting upon the Islamic clerics that advise his party Ra'am.
Mansour Abbas crowed that both the government and the opposition were waiting upon the Islamic clerics that advise his party Ra'am. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

What happened? The head of the governing coalition’s single Arab party, Mansour Abbas, threatened to bolt over Israel’s handling of the recent violence at the Tempe Mount. The decision on whether to not to do so was debated by the Muslim religious body behind the Ra’am political party, known as its Shura Council.

Abbas quipped that the government, the opposition and all of Israel were made to wait on the determination of a handful of Islamic clerics.

SHURA WHAT? A shura council is a consultative religious body that determines difficult matters for many political and military organizations in the Muslim world. Hamas has a shura council, as does Hezbollah. Ra’am’s shura council is part of the Islamic Movement in Israel, itself a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.


Who benefits?

  • Short-term: Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud party immediately forwarded a motion of no confidence in anticipation of Ra’am quitting the coalition. The motion was pulled when Abbas later said he’s stay on, for now.
  • Long-term: The Arab Muslim lawmakers, who demonstrated that despite being a minority, they can effectively still hold the government of Israel hostage.

SIDE NOTE: This episode was yet another blow against claims that Israel is an “apartheid” state. If it actually were such, then Abbas and his Ra’am party could never wield such power, and certainly not with only four seats.


What now? While things have calmed again for now, surveys show Abbas’ party bleeding support and unlikely to pass the electoral threshold in the next national election. So expect him to continue to leverage his pivotal position to extract concessions painful to his right-wing coalition partners for as long as the current government survives.

And the consequences? Abbas’ antics are likely to be one of the key reasons this government fails to serve a full term. Already two members of Bennett’s own Yamina party have turned their backs on the coalition over unacceptable appeasement of Ra’am and left-wing members of the coalition. If just one more leaves, Bennett’s becomes a minority government.

In the meantime, those concessions and appeasements are eroding voter support for Yamina and the other right-wing parties in the coalition, the result being that Likud could win more seats than ever in the next election.

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