מרב בטיטו
Merav Batito
Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas and Yamina head Naftali Bennett

Bennett and Abbas have broken a barrier

Opinion: The actual outcome of the meeting between the head of the right-wing Yamina and the leader of the Islamist Ra'am is inconsequential when compared to the fact that it even took place, smashing the wall that Netanyahu built between Arabs and Jews

Merav Batito |
Published: 04.29.21, 23:31
They are members of the same legislative body, eat at the same cafeteria, vote for the same laws and for the past two and a half years have obeyed the long-standing rules of the game in parliament.
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  • One is a 49-year-old high-tech entrepreneur and religious Jew from the central city of Ra'anana, while the other is a 47-year-old dentist and religious Muslim from the Arab village of Maghar, who also serves as the deputy head of the Islamic Movement's Southern Branch.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    נפתלי בנט מנסור עבאס
    נפתלי בנט מנסור עבאס
    Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas and Yamina head Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: Elad Gershgon, Amit Shaal)
    Both are lawmakers who lead parties very prominently aligned with the ends of the political spectrum. And until Wednesday, the two apparently had done all they could to never sit in the same room.
    But for the first time in their respective political careers, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and Ra'am head Mansour Abbas shattered an ideological divide that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has orchestrated between Jews and Arabs for nearly a decade.
    It is yet too soon to say what will come of their meeting, as the country's political echelon scrambles to form a government.
    But what we can say is that a barrier has been smashed in Israeli society, for a staunch right-wing leader has met with a senior member of the Arab political echelon.
    Now, with Netanyahu overburdened by political and personal woes, he does not have the time to reinforce this wall of disenfranchisement he built.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Flash 90)
    Skeptics could justly say that the one thing that brought Bennett and Abbas to the same room was political ambition. The merry and camaraderie-strong joint statement that was released afterward should also be taken with a grain of salt.
    Things like "good spirits" and "both sides being interested in a government" are not really the building blocks of a coalition.
    Add to this Bennett's prior statements and the Religious Zionist's brand new slogan "Abbas and Hamas," coming this weekend to a highway or Facebook page near you, and it seems that a rocky road lies ahead for both lawmakers if they do wish to pursue a partnership.
    Along the way, Abbas' not-so-old skeletons will probably fall out, such as his support for state-sponsored gay conversion therapy and enshrining polygamy into law.
    The importance of this improbable journey does not lie with the downfall of Netanyahu or the formation of a government, but with its very existence despite all the challenges that lie ahead.
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