Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday showered praise on governing partner and leader of the Islamist Ra'am party Mansour Abbas for his support of Israel as a Jewish state and expressed his confidence in the longevity of the government despite losing its majority in Knesset.
"For the first time, we have a leader who stands in front of the cameras, not behind the scenes, and says that Israel is a Jewish state and will remain a Jewish state,” Liberman said.
“[Abbas] effectively stood in front of [Hamas leader in Gaza] Yahya Sinwar and plainly told him to stop talking nonsense.
He also insisted that nothing had been promised to Ra’am regarding a change in the status quo on the Temple Mount," Liberman added, referring to the tense situation at the Jerusalem shrine that led Ra'am to freeze its support of the government.
The Arab party ultimately resumed its support of the government on Wednesday, effectively blocking the opposition's efforts to dissolve parliament and call a snap election. Abbas on Thursday also voiced his support for the coalition to attempt to court the support of the ultra-Orthodox parties.
Liberman expressed confidence the coalition could see out its term, despite losing its hair-thin majority in parliament after the resignation of former coalition whip Idit Silman — leaving the tottering coalition with just 60 representatives in the 120-seat Knesset.
"Look at what happened this week — we passed the Self-Employment Assistance Law, next week we will pass in the second and third readings a work grant for minimum wage earners,” the treasurer said.
“I know how to cough up a majority for the [vote on the state] budget, we will pass a budget on the first, second and third readings."
Meanwhile, Liberman slammed the Palestinian Authority for its vehement refusal to allow a joint investigation into the circumstances of the death of Shireen Abu Akleh — the Al Jazeera journalist killed during a fire exchange between IDF soldiers and Palestinian militants in the West Bank city of Jenin Wednesday.
"It is clear that the Palestinians are avoiding an objective investigation. What is important is that the United States also wanted to join that investigation,” he said.
“[The Palestinians] probably have their reasons, naturally the suspicion is heavy, they know why they are evading [an investigation]," Liberman added and reiterated that Israel was still unsure who shot the reporter.