Islamist Party Holds Key to Impending Israeli Unity Government

In stark contrast to the violence boiling over on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, a right-center-left coalition of parties opposed to the rule of longtime Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could be formed as early as Tuesday with support from an Islamist party, the United Arab List.

Yair Lapid, chairman of the centrist Yesh Atid party, which won 17 seats in the March election, was tasked by President Reuven Rivlin to form a government after Netanyahu got the first shot at doing so and failed. But to attract support from right-wingers that he needs to put together a coalition, Lapid has had to offer Naftali Bennett, head of the seven-seat Yamina party, the initial turn to be prime minister in a government that would see the premiership rotate to Lapid after two years and three months.

The parties expected to initially hold cabinet seats in the Lapid-Bennett unity government represent only 58 parliamentarians – a minority in the 120-seat Knesset. But the four Knesset members from the United Arab List also are expected to support a vote of confidence in the unity government. Party Chairman Mansour Abbas, who is unlikely to be a government minister, met on Sunday with Bennett and the two of them are expected to meet with Lapid on Monday to hammer out the conditions for securing the Islamist party’s support, including increased government budgets for Israel’s Arab sector and the official recognition of three Bedouin communities in the Negev Desert.

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