Palestinian Israeli lawmaker slams Arab breakaway faction for 'being used' by Netanyahu

Palestinian Israeli lawmaker slams Arab breakaway faction for 'being used' by Netanyahu
The United Arab List broke away from other Palestinian-Israeli parties over its support for the Likud Party.
3 min read
17 March, 2021
Odeh hit out at a rival Palestinian Israeli faction [Getty]
The leader of the largest Palestinian-Israeli political bloc in the Knesset slammed a breakaway Arab faction this week, over his rival's close relationship to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party.

Ayman Odeh, head of the Palestinian-Israeli dominated Joint List alliance, admitted to Haaretz that he was bewildered by the blossoming relationship between the conservative United Arab List faction - better known as Ra'am - and the governing Likud Party.

Mansour Abbas led Ra'am out of the Joint List in January, after an angry backlash within the coalition over his apparent support for Netanyahu's bid for immunity over corruption allegations.

"Unfortunately what has happened between Netanyahu and Mansour Abbas has certainly hurt us," Odeh told the Israeli daily.

"[Abbas] was willing to to give him [Netanyahu] the French law before he disappeared for the no confidence vote against the government and made all sorts of strange statements."

Ra'am, the political wing of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, had grown further apart from the leftist and liberal Joint List alliance on a number of social issues, including LGBTQ+ rights.

Odeh said he had worked hard to keep the Joint List together but Abbas' flirtations with Likud were a step too far for many in the alliance.

The Joint List leader said that Ra'am's split will only serve to strengthen the right's domination of Israeli politics.

"We are just like every other people. Sometimes we disagree, even argue. At the same time we don't have the privilage to split up, especially after the bad situation," he opined.

"We should have stuck together and won 17 seats. We did everything to keep him with us. Unfortunately, he thought they [Abbas and Netanyahu] were using each other for mutual gain."

The divisions threaten to split the Palestinian-Israeli vote during next week's general election and weaken the community's representation in the Knesset, which Odeh says reflect badly on Abbas.

"I guess he [Abbas] didn't realise Netanyahu had already used him and said, 'Mansour you can go now'," he said.

"The social issues are one thing, but the political issues are another."

Odeh said that despite the differences between Netanyahu and the Israeli religious right, Ultra-Orthodox parties will continue to support the prime minister due to his support for Israel's occupation in the West Bank and backing for huge military spending.

"What can you give him? You are an Arab," he asked Abbas rhetorically.

"We need to fathom that we can only get respect when we're strong and that's what we've done over the past few years."

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