Ra’am MK offered deputy minister post on condition he quits Knesset — report

Mazen Ghanaim is reportedly being offered the job of deputy housing minister to ease pressure on the coalition by not having to ensure his support for every vote

Ra'am MK Mazen Ghanaim, seen at the Knesset on April 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitousi/Flash90)
Ra'am MK Mazen Ghanaim, seen at the Knesset on April 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitousi/Flash90)

The Islamist Ra’am Party is reportedly in talks to have its MK, Mazen Ghanaim, appointed a deputy minister on the condition that he resign from the Knesset.

According to Channel 12 news, Ghanaim’s independent streak has raised concerns in the coalition government. Appointing him as deputy housing minister would ease pressure on the coalition — which holds the narrow 61-MK majority — by not having to ensure his support for every close vote.

Ra’am was set to receive a deputy minister under the initial coalition agreement.

Under the Norwegian Law, MKs can resign from the Knesset when they become a minister or deputy minister, making way for a new lawmaker. If they later resign from the cabinet, they can return to their spot in the Knesset. The next MK on Ra’am’s electoral list is former lawmaker Iman Khatib-Yasin.

Earlier this month, Ghanaim vowed to quit the government if Israel were to strike in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

“Gaza, Lebanon and the Muslim and Christian holy places [in Jerusalem] are red lines,” Ghanaim told the Kan public broadcaster’s Arabic-language radio station, Makan.

“There is no love affair between Mansour Abbas and the new government,” Ghanaim said, saying the fate of the government is yet to be seen, but he views Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as just as bad as his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli Air Force struck targets in the Gaza Strip earlier this week.

Mansour Abbas and his Ra’am faction discuss coalition politics, on Monday, April 19, 2021. (Aaron Boxerman/The Times of Israel)

But earlier in July, Ghanaim denied that Ra’am was holding the government hostage, and said he wants the coalition to hold together.

“What we are doing is not extortion,” he told Channel 12 news, saying the party was simply acting on behalf of the country’s Arab community. “This is a population of nearly 18 percent that has been neglected,” he said. “What we are doing here is a correction.”

Ghanaim said Ra’am had made it quite clear during coalition-building that the party would act to serve Arab society. He said Ra’am wants to be “a legitimate player” and that he hopes the government “understands us.”

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