Israel's main opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his Likud party will never ally itself with the Ra'am Party, led by Mansour Abbas, which he accused of being "anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist".
He added that it "supports terrorism and represents the Muslim Brotherhood."
Netanyahu's remarks were reported by Israeli Channel 12 TV. "The Likud under my leadership has never agreed and will never agree to include Ra'am in any coalition," he insisted. Israel's longest-serving prime minister made his comment after disowning his fellow Likud MK David Amsalem who said, "If Mansour Abbas wants to join after we have 61 [seats], then, he is welcome."
Amsalem added that an Israeli government should have a Zionist majority. "After we have a Zionist majority, if anyone else wants to [join], I have no problem with that." He claimed that the Likud has "never had a problem cooperating with the Arab parties on civic issues, but when we rely on them on national issues we lose our Jewish identity."
According to an official statement from Likud: "The remarks were made contrary to the position, and are not the opinion, of former Prime Minister Netanyahu. Netanyahu has never agreed and will never agree to include Ra'am in his coalition."
Netanyahu said Amsalem's comments represent "his opinion only" and claimed falsely, the Times of Israel reported, that "Ra'am represents the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to destroy Israel."
Despite Likud's public protests, added the newspaper, Abbas says that Netanyahu courted him for his own coalition-building efforts last year.