Islamist party becomes surprise kingmaker after Israel vote

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Israel’s election brought a surprise when a conservative Islamist party crossed the threshold to enter parliament and its leader emerged on Wednesday as a possible kingmaker.

Mansour Abbas and his Raam party, unlike other Arab political groups before it, have not ruled out joining an Israeli government.

“We are prepared to engage” with either Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s camp or his rivals, Abbas told Israeli radio while stressing that “I’m not in anyone’s pocket”.

On Wednesday, the party was on track to win five seats in Israel’s 120-member Knesset, with roughly 90 per cent of the vote counted.

Israel’s latest inconclusive election left no clear path for Netanyahu or his rivals to form a government, setting the stage for protracted coalition talks.