(June 9, 2021 / JNS) The formation of an Israeli governing coalition with the anti-Zionist Islamist movement (Ra’am), and the reported concessions granted to Ra’am in the coalition agreement are extremely dangerous and inimical to Israel’s security, the rule of law, Israeli election integrity and may handcuff Israel’s free decision-making ability. The coalition agreement reportedly facilitates massive illegal Arab construction in Jewish areas of Judea Samaria (Area C), and essentially gives away Israeli control of the vital Negev Desert. In addition, the coalition with the Islamist movement will hamper Israel from defending against Hamas and other Arab attacks on Jews, and may lead to the formation of a Palestinian Arab terror state.
The Israeli prime minister’s ability to appropriately deal with terrorism, another Hamas or Hezbollah war, building in Judea and Samaria, and other critical issues will be sharply curtailed because Ra’am can threaten to bring down the government any time the new coalition fails to act in accordance with its wishes. Thus, even if there was nothing adverse in the coalition agreement, the coalition itself would endanger the Jewish state because of Ra’am’s hostility to Israel’s policies.
The party’s power to impair Israel’s security by threatening to bring down the government is exacerbated by the fact that Israel could soon have a left wing prime minister, even before the deeply concerning scheduled rotation in two years. The coalition agreement reportedly requires the prime minister position to be turned over to the left (Yesh Atid) in three months if the government fails to pass a budget (or in 15 months if the same no budget is passed next year). The left can thus quickly ascend to the prime ministership by deliberately refusing to pass a budget, this year or next. A left wing government may be more willing to make more concessions on critical issues when and if threatened by Ra’am.
The coalition also gives influence in the Israeli government to vicious antisemites who support and incite attacks against Jews. At a demonstration last month, Ra’am’s third-in-command, Knesset member Walid Taha, accused Israel (meaning Jews) of “contaminating” Al-Aqsa mosque (the mosque built on the Jewish people’s holiest site, the Temple Mount); and praised Arabs who rioted against Israel defending herself in Gaza against the “occupation” (Israel’s existence), and against the lawful evictions of non-paying renters and squatters in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Shimon HaTzadik/Sheikh Jarrah.
In April, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was wrongly negotiating with Ra’am, ZOA warned against anyone forming any government with the pro-Hamas Ra’am party and described the dangers of the concessions that Ra’am was demanding. The coalition that has now been entered into confirms our fears.
Israel’s brilliant Nobel Laureate, Professor Yisrael Aumann, aptly called the new coalition a “disaster” that is “warping democracy since most of the nation voted for the right. It’s very bad that they will form a leftist government, and that they need to rely on [Ra’am leader Mansour] Abbas and Meretz.”
Indeed, a coalition with the Islamic Movement is not what the Israeli people voted for. The Israeli right and religious parties won an overwhelming 70 (out of 120) seats in the Knesset—enough for a solid pro-Zionist government. A Midgam Institute poll for Israel’s Channel 12 last weekend showed that the Israeli public opposes the coalition agreement with Ra’am, even though the alternative is plunging Israeli into another round of elections. (Some 48 percent of the general public oppose having Ra’am in the coalition, compared to only 40 percent who support it. Among self-identified right wing Israelis, 64 percent oppose the coalition with Ra’am, and only 25 percent supported it.)
The leaders of the new governing coalition have a moral duty to promote the rational right-of-center agenda that several of their parties and the majority of the Israeli electorate voted for, despite some of the diverse ruling coalition’s left wing, naive positions and unfortunate aversion to Judaism. Entering into a coalition with Ra’am and making dangerous concessions to it violates fundamental obligations to the Israeli people.
While we understand that our friends in the new governing coalition are acting out of a genuine desire to save Israel from the tumult of yet another election, the dangers of a coalition with Ra’am are too overwhelming to put aside for the sake of electoral quiet.
Ra’am’s anti-Zionism and support for Hamas: Ra’am is a subsidiary of the Muslim Brotherhood, and as such, is a sister to Muslim Brotherhood subsidiary Hamas.
Ra’am’s current Guiding Charter, adopted just recently (in 2018), and never abrogated, calls Zionism “racist”; states that “Israel was born of the racist, occupying Zionist project” and charges “ourselves, the Palestinian people” with the responsibility to “confront this project”—a euphemistic call to violence. The charter further incites violence by comparing Israel to “apostate” Crusader invaders “who ravished the land” until they were defeated by Saladin and by calling this a “warning.”
Ra’am’s Guiding Charter also demands creating a Palestinian Arab (terror) state with Jerusalem as its capital on the suicidal-for-Israel 1949 Armistice lines; a so-called Arab “right of return” into all of Israel that would overrun and eliminate Israel’s existence; dismantling all “settlements” (Jewish communities); and no recruitment of Arabs to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. Ra’am’s official governing demands thus call for the end of the Jewish state.
Ra’am has consistently sided with Hamas over Israel. In 2019, when Hamas terrorists fomented riots at the Gaza border, threw explosive devices at Israelis, and attempted to breach the border to murder Israelis, Taha accused Netanyahu of an “aggressive” “policy of escalation” that would drag the region into a “real disaster,” and threaten “the security of the entire region and the lives of millions of innocent people in the Gaza Strip.” He also accused Israel of “ contaminating” the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Just a month ago, during Hamas’s launch of more than 4,000 rockets on Israeli civilians and the accompanying widespread Arab Israel internal violence (pogroms) against their Jewish neighbors in Israel, Ra’am’s leaders again demonstrated that they favor the terrorists over Israelis: It pulled out of coalition negotiations to protest Israeli efforts to stop Hamas’s attacks and demanded that charges be dropped against Arab Israelis who burned down synagogues and attacked Jews.
The Protectors of Israel Movement (Habithonistim-IDSF), a group of 2,000 former Israeli generals, officers, and servicemen, warned that “an Israeli government that relies on this party [Ra’am] to function will simply not be able to function. The very action of empowering these forces within Israeli politics has already led to bloodshed.”
Ra’am and its leaders also oppose the Abraham Accords; oppose Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; oppose Israel as a Jewish state; identify as Palestinian nationalists; and refused to call Hamas a terror group.
Relinquishing control over the Negev: The coalition agreement adopted Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas’ demands to freeze demolition of illegal Bedouin structures in the Negev and to “legalize” new Bedouin “villages” in the Negev. (Israel previously built cities for the Bedouin and legalized 11 Bedouin villages.) Regavim (an Israeli organization dedicated to ecological, lawful development and to preventing illegal seizures of state land) explained that this concession really means drawing large circles around unlawfully pitched Bedouin tents scattered throughout Israeli state lands and turning these pretend “villages” into a massive takeover of the vitally strategic Negev. Regavim explained that Israel “will essentially be split in half, with the northern and southern parts divided by a midriff section controlled by Bedouin.” “Legalizing” more illegal Bedouin land grabs would prevent needed, careful Jewish development of two-thirds of the country; impair Israeli defense; damage the Negev’s fragile ecology; and enable arms and other smuggling between Gaza and the Palestinian Authority.
Have we forgotten the brave Jews who fought and died in 1948 to turn back the Egyptian army’s attack through the Negev to destroy Jerusalem and the rest of Israel? Have we forgotten Labor Party Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s insistence that the Negev is vital to Israel’s future and Ben-Gurion’s vision: “It is in the Negev where the creativity and pioneering vigor of Israel shall be tested?” Ben-Gurion would turn over in his grave (in Sde Boker, in the Negev) if he saw his dreams for the area thrown away so easily. No political coalition is worth ceding the Negev.
Enabling illegal Arab construction: The coalition agreement also freezes (eliminates) enforcement of the “Kaminetz” law against illegal (Arab) construction in Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem, until the end of 2024 according to one report, for nine months according to another report and for almost four years according to another report. Even existing demolition orders will reportedly be frozen. The coalition has also reportedly agreed to discuss amending the Kaminetz law. In addition, the coalition leaders reportedly will ask Israel’s attorney general to retroactively cancel all fines and sanctions on illegal Arab construction.
During the past decade, with the help of European government funding, Palestinian Arabs have erected 60,000 illegal structures in areas over which Israel has sole authority under the Oslo Accords. These illegal structures have been erected in a blatant attempt planned by the P.A. to create Arab facts on the ground in Jewish areas and to restrict and endanger Jewish communities. There is no legitimate necessity for these structures because the P.A. areas have a great deal of open land available for construction. Many of the illegal Arab structures are on Israeli state-owned land, in the midst of military ranges, and/or on ecologically fragile protected areas.
Thus, while an Israeli couple must work for decades to afford to buy a lawful home and pay a mortgage on it, Palestinian Arabs can simply build anywhere they choose with no consequence.
Failing to enforce the law will allow these illegal Arab structures to further proliferate, and will further endanger Jewish communities and undermine Israeli sovereignty and the rule of law.
Ceding Israeli control in the Negev, Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem is not simply a “civil” matter, as the new coalition’s leaders claim. These agreements damage and go to the heart of Israel’s security and sovereignty.
Creating a Palestinian Terror State? There is also a report that officials of the new coalition government have stated that they plan to immediately engage in “final status” talks with the P.A., to create a Palestinian Arab state on Israel’s sovereign land as soon as the new coalition government is sworn in. A Palestinian Arab state in Judea and Samaria—and possibly even in Jerusalem—would be an Iran-backed, Hamas-Fatah terror state that places every inch of Israel within close mortar range, causes countless Jewish deaths and endangers Israel’s existence.
We hope and pray that members of the new coalition will reconsider before the coalition with the Islamic Movement is sworn in and does irreparable damage to the Jewish nation.
Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America.
This article was originally published in JNS and can be viewed here.