Former Israel Beytenu MK Eli Avidar is in contact with the Islamist Ram Party about attending the November 1 vote.
Avidar, who rebelled against Israel Beitenu and the coalition on several occasions during his tenure, left Avigdor Lieberman’s party and recently formed his own under the name Israel Free and Democratic. However, no election has placed him anywhere near the electoral threshold for entering the Knesset.
The merger was first talked about by Channel 12 on Saturday. A spokesperson for Avidar confirmed the report but did not provide further details. Ram did not comment.
A link-up between the parties would be a major turning point underlining Israel’s ongoing political confusion: Ram serves as the political arm of the Islamic movement’s southern faction, while Avidar, a former member of a radical right-wing party, serves as the more recent. Recently gained popularity among leftists for supporting the nationwide Netanyahu protests in 2020-2021.
According to the network, Ram has not ruled out running with Avidar, but has yet to decide whether to bring on a Jewish candidate. The report also said that Avidar’s fierce opposition to Netanyahu could work against him, with Rama wanting to keep the prospect of a future collaboration with the Likud.
Ram was also reportedly wary that the move could damage his relationship with Avidar’s former boss, Israel Beytenu chief Lieberman.
Television polls this week gave Ram four to five seats in the upcoming election. The polls have predicted even more impasse, with neither Netanyahu nor his rivals able to secure a majority in the election, Israel’s fifth in less than four years.
Ram Party chief Mansoor Abbas on Saturday ruled out reuniting with a joint list coalition of mainly Arab parties in the upcoming elections.
“It’s not on the agenda,” Abbas told Channel 12.
To throw further cold water on the move, Abbas tore down Joint List chief Ayman Odeh when asked about the latter’s remarks that the Ram leader was a “pet Arab” of the current coalition.
“In my opinion, it comes from a sense of hopelessness and failure,” Abbas said. “They have nothing else to contribute to the Arab community or politics in general.”
The Islamist Rams were one of several factions previously included on the Joint List, but chose to go it alone in last year’s elections. It joined a broader power-sharing coalition, becoming the first Arab Israeli party to do so in decades, a move strongly criticized by its former allies.
There has been a ruckus about Ram and the Joint List re-team in the November 1 elections amid concerns about a potentially low Arab turnout.
Earlier this month, a Channel 12 report claimed that a close confidant of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had met with Joint List leaders to persuade them to reunite with Ram. Can you
Asked on Saturday about the reported meeting, Ram K Abbas said he rejected any participation of non-citizens in the Israeli elections and the Arab Israeli community.
“Ram was not and will not be part of any contact beyond the limit, period,” he said.
Abbas also hit out at opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing the former prime minister and his Likud party of inciting Ram and other Arab Knesset members to brand them “pro-terrorists”. He referred to Likud’s widely reported previous attempts to gain its support for a Netanyahu-led government, which Likud has strongly denied.
“I have a lot of evidence,” Abbas said of his contacts with Likud. “I don’t usually discuss or disclose political discussions or correspondence, but Netanyahu continues to incite against us on a daily basis.”
“He is harming our democratic and civil rights to partner and make an impact,” Ram Pramukh said.
Likud later hit back at Ram, saying he “did not and will not agree” to include the party in the government.
Carrie Keller-Lynn contributed to this report.