In Brief: Arab party announces policy wins from Israel’s coalition govt

Mansour Abbas > Mark Neyman / Government Press Office (Israel), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ra’am party, which supports Israel’s coalition government led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, has announced the reaching of a new agreement with the government regarding unrecognised communities in the southern Negev region of Israel that would allow for some illegal constructions to remain without penalty.

The announcement followed the end of a three-week freeze in Ra’am’s participation in the coalition, jeopardising the government’s stability.

In a statement, the Islamist party said that the government would not demolish buildings of up to 70 square metres in unrecognised villages, nor fine the owners.

The rules will reportedly apply to new homes and extensions that bring existing buildings up to that size, as well as to roof replacements.

Ra’am said that the development was just one of several it had secured in a new agreement with the rest of the government.

Celebrating the agreement, the party said that the new arrangement was “like oxygen to the Arab families in those villages in the Negev”.

The move was criticised by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who accused the government of “being held hostage by the Shura Council”, a reference to the Islamic Movement’s guiding council, calling for a new nationalist government.