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Israel's Likud divided need for Arab party in government coalition

Israeli Likud Party campaign material and posters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strown on the floor following election night on April 10, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel [Jack GUEZ/AFP/Getty]
Israeli Likud Party campaign material and posters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following election night on 10 April 2019 in Tel Aviv [Jack GUEZ/AFP/Getty]

A state of deep division has prevailed among members of Israel's Likud party, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, over the need to ask Arab parties to join the next coalition government, Haaretz reported.

The paper said the party's members have engaged in a heated debate on WhatsApp, where a clear majority of its members and Knesset lawmakers strongly opposed the idea.

The preliminary results of the fourth Israeli elections in less than two years showed that Netanyahu's Likud has emerged as the party with the majority of the vote. However, Netanyahu and the bloc of parties that are certain to support him have so far secured only 52 seats, nine seats short of the 61 majority needed to form a coalition government.

Netanyahu's opponents have also failed to garner a majority, with a collection of anti-Netanyahu parties securing 57 seats.

Backing from the Arab parties could put either camp in a position of power.

READ: Netanyahu leads Israel elections without majority, exit polls say

Gideon Sa'ar, the Likud member and head of the right-wing New Hope party, which is expected to gain six seats, has already refused to join Netanyahu's government.

Meanwhile, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett has refused to support either Netanyahu or the political rivals determined to depose him.

This, political analysts believe, could force Netanyahu to turn to the Arab parties for support, especially as it is trying to avoid seeing the country head to a fifth election.

Mansour Abbas, head of the conservative Islamic party Raam, withdrew his party from the Arab dominated Joint List ahead of the elections saying he was willing to enter into a coalition with Netanyahu, it is expected that he receives four votes, which could help make Netanyahu's coalition viable. He has said he is not "obligated to any bloc or any candidate".

"We're prepared to hold talks with both sides, with anyone who wants to form a government and considers himself to be a future prime minister," Abbas said in a radio interview. "If an offer is received, we'll sit down and talk."

The final results  are due to be released today.

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IsraelIsraeli ElectionsMiddle EastNewsPalestine
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