Mansour Abbas
Mansour AbbasNoam Moskowitz, Knesset spokesperson

Ra’am chairman MK Mansour Abbas on Tuesday acknowledged that Israel is a Jewish state and will remain that way.

Speaking at the Globes Israel Business Conference, Abbas told journalist Mohammad Majadele, "The State of Israel was born as a Jewish state, and the question is how to integrate Arab society into it."

Abbas added that "there is no doubt that we are on the threshold of a new era, and I say this cautiously and hope that the process will succeed and that the coalition-level partnership [of Ra’am] will be a trend towards more partnerships in the economy, in the industry and more."

"We are at the beginning of the partnership but I believe in it - it is impossible to wait for change without creating a new reality. We had always demanded to make the change without moving forward. Instead of waiting for the change and then there will be a partnership, Ra’am came and said 'let's make a partnership that will bring about the change,'" he continued.

Abbas was asked if he was satisfied with the current political situation and replied, "I am satisfied with the process itself which we started. We are inside and now we need to play the game and find solutions to the problems we encounter and deal with in one way or another."

When asked if he could accept the State of Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas replied, "The State of Israel was born as a Jewish state. It is the decision of the people and the question is not about the identity of the state. It was born this way and will remain so."

"I was at a demonstration against the Nationality Law and I do not want to deceive anyone. The question is what is the status of the Arab citizen in the Jewish state of Israel. That is the question. Therefore, the challenge now is not only with Mansour Abbas, but with the Jewish public and citizens. We have to decide whether we want to wage struggles that have a chance to succeed and then we can develop as a society and prosper and have an influence, or whether we want to be in a separatist position and continue to talk about these things for another 100 years."

The chairman of Ra'am said he did not neglect the promotion of peace and diplomatic issues. "If I were in their place, I would do things. If I were the Prime Minister, I would recognize the state of Palestine. If I were the chairman of the PA, I would declare that I demand an end to all activities that involve violence and unite the West Bank and Gaza and call to sit at the negotiating table. These two steps will surely lead us to increase trust and move towards a process in which a State of Palestine will be established here next to the State of Israel in accordance with the vision I believe in. To live together in partnership and equality and tolerance."

Abbas recounted what he had promised Bennett in the beginning. "There was no prior acquaintance between me and Bennett, so it was important from the beginning to lay the right and solid foundations. It is not easy and everyone has to trust each other. He and I take risks, including on the personal level. Even politicians have been asking me to reveal what happened with Netanyahu. I will not do that because we need to have trust."

Abbas declined to say what happened at a meeting he held with Rabbi Haim Druckman, one of Israel's foremost Religious Zionist rabbis, which was joined by Benjamin Netanyahu and three other Likud members.

"I will not elaborate. There was such a conversation, but I want to build a system of trust so I will not reveal things, even if they serve my interest. We too have absolved the Zionist parties of the responsibility to share with us. We cannot go back," he stated.