Although Mansour Abbas’s Islamic Ra’am party won only five seats in the new Knesset, Ofir Haivry argues that his victory is, in the long run, more significant even than Benjamin Netanyahu’s:
At first glance [Abbas’s] achievement could be overlooked: with 195,000 votes, Ra’am won five seats in the Knesset, the same number as the joint Ḥadash (Communists) and Ta’al (Arab Movement for Renewal) list, which together received 180,000 votes. Balad, [a third Arab party], didn’t pass the electoral threshold. . . . In other words, Ra’am received some 40 percent of the votes for Arab parties, and the remaining 60 percent were divided between the three other parties. The significance of the numbers is that Ra’am, by quite a margin, is the largest Arab party, and the only one that passed the electoral threshold on its own.
Its success comes in the wake of the move taken by Abbas after the 2021 elections—a move that was controversial in the Arab sector—when he declared his willingness to be a partner in a coalition with Zionist parties and held negotiations both with Netanyahu and the opposing camp. In the end, Abbas joined forces with the Bennett-Lapid coalition in the face of stern opposition within the Arab sector and even within his party.
The Arab electorate didn’t reject the move but rewarded him with its votes, which gave Ra’am the status of the largest Arab party and crowned Abbas as the leader of the sector. The results were not just a reward for a political maneuver. They also broke a 40-year veto that the Arab parties had imposed on any real cooperation with the Zionist parties.