Israel’s election ended in another mess. Could an Arab party break the deadlock?

Mansour Abbas, in a mosque last month in the village of Daburiyya, Israel, could play the role of kingmaker in Israel’s election. (photo: Dan Balilty for The New York Times)
In the fourth attempt, neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his opponents have a clear path to power. An Islamist party has emerged as a possible kingmaker.

By Patrick Kingsley and Adam Rasgon | The New York Times |  Mar 24, 2020

An independent Arab party has never been part of an Israeli government before, although some Arab lawmakers supported Yitzhak Rabin’s government from the outside in the 1990s.

JERUSALEM — After a fourth Israeli election in two years appears to have ended in another stalemate, leaving many Israelis feeling trapped in an endless loop, there was at least one surprising result on Wednesday: An Arab political party has emerged as a potential kingmaker.

Even more surprising, the party was Raam, an Islamist group with roots in the same religious movement as Hamas, the militant group that runs the Gaza Strip. For years, Raam was rarely interested in working with the Israeli leadership and, like most Arab parties, was ostracized by its Jewish counterparts.

But according to the latest vote count, Raam’s five seats hold the balance of power between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc and the motley alliance of parties that seeks to end his 12 years in power. The vote tally is not yet final, and Raam has previously suggested it would only support a government from the outside.

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