Islamist Ra'am party 'temporarily' halts coalition partnership

Party leader Mansour Abbas' move meant to satisfy more extreme elements in his party, who have been calling to quit government in wake of clashes on Temple Mount; move to set to have been coordinated with Bennett and Lapid

Einav Halabi, Moran Azulay|
The Islamist Ra'am party announced Sunday evening it is suspending its partnership in the current coalition government over recent violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces on Temple Mount.
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  • The party has been under pressure to quit the coalition from its more extreme elements and supporters over religious tensions, holding an emergency meeting earlier, with some fearing the faction may resign from the government.
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    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Palestinians riot at Temple Mount, Ra'am party leader Mansour Abbas
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Palestinians riot at Temple Mount, Ra'am party leader Mansour Abbas
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Palestinians riot at Temple Mount, Ra'am party leader Mansour Abbas
    (Alex Kolomoisky, AFP)
    Party leader Mansour Abbas, however, appears to prefer to stay in the coalition, thus opting to temporarily freeze its participation as part of the majority bloc, which only recently lost one of its MKs.
    The move, however, will have no practical effect since the Knesset is currently on its winter recess until May. The decision looks to have been made in order to calm the tensions on the one hand, but not severely damage the coalition ties on the other.
    The decision is set to have been made with full knowledge of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who held talks with Abbas in an effort to persuade him not to quit the coalition.
    The decision was announced after being approved by the Shura Council (advisory or consultative council in Arab culture), which is part of the Islamic Movement in Israel and has a great influence on decision-making of the Arab parties.
    The council also had called for all Arab parties in Israel to call for boycott of the Knesset, but the proposal was rejected by the Joint List.
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    עימותים בירושלים
    עימותים בירושלים
    Israel Police forces during Jerusalem riots
    (Photo: AFP)
    The Islamic Movement earlier issued a statement, condemning what they said was an attack on Al Aqsa Mosque worshippers. "It is barbaric behavior and a heinous crime against one of the holiest places to all Muslims in the world. And it could also generate more violence for which the occupation forces will bear responsibility."
    Earlier on Sunday, the Muslim cleric of the Islamist Ra'am party, Sheikh Mohammad Salameh Hassan, called his party to resign from the coalition, "for the sake of Al-Aqsa."
    Hassan's call comes in the midst of the holy month of Ramadan - a time of exacerbated tensions and religious sensitivity - and in the wake of violent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian rioters near the Al Aqsa Mosque compound.
    Also on Sunday, Bennett said that Israel is working to maintain peace and religious freedom, though security forces "are free" to act as they see fit to stop incitement and rioting.
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