Prepandemic, Israel usually allowed tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank to visit Jerusalem on Fridays during the fasting month. The arm of the Israeli government that liaises with the Palestinian Authority said on Tuesday that Israel would allow 10,000 vaccinated Palestinians from the West Bank to pray at the Aqsa on Friday. It also said authorities would permit 5,000 vaccinated Palestinians from the West Bank to make family visits in Israel between Sunday and Thursday next week.

Omar Kiswani, the director of the Aqsa Mosque, said he was overjoyed that the compound was open to worshipers — an estimated 11,000 attended the taraweeh prayers at the compound Monday evening — but he emphasized that people would still need to be careful. He said masks and two meters’ distance between worshipers are required at the mosque, and the indoor and outdoor spaces will be sterilized daily.

“These are times of great happiness,” Mr. Kiswani said. “We hope the blessed Aqsa Mosque will return to its prepandemic glory. But these are also times of caution, because the virus is still out there.”

Vivian Yee reported from Cairo, and Adam Rasgon from Jerusalem. Asmaa al-Omar contributed reporting form Istanbul and Abdi Latif Dahir from Nairobi.

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Severe Covid Cases Surge in Gaza as Ramadan Nears

Severe and critical cases of Covid-19 have hit record highs this week in the blockaded Gaza Strip, a development that health experts attributed to the proliferation of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant first identified in Britain.

Medical officials in the Hamas-run Health Ministry estimated that the variant now accounts for four out of five new cases in Gaza. They detected it in the densely populated territory for the first time in late March.

“We are in a dangerous place,” said Dr. Majdi Dhair, the director of the ministry’s preventive medicine department. “We expect more people to become infected and more people to enter hospitals. We ask God to pull us out of this situation.”

Over the past three weeks, severe cases — typically when a patient’s oxygen level falls to 94 percent or less — have risen to 219 from 58, according to ministry data. Critical cases, which can involve respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ dysfunction, jumped to 58 from 17.

On top of that, the ministry said on Monday that about 38 percent of the 4,700 virus test results it had received over the preceding 24 hours were positive — one of the highest rates in the past month.

Dr. Dhair said he believed that hospitals in Gaza were prepared to handle more severe and critical cases, but that they would probably have to postpone some surgical procedures to free up intensive care beds.

Devastated by years of conflict, Gaza’s hospitals were already dealing with challenging circumstances before the first cases of community transmission of the virus were discovered in the territory in August.

Gaza’s population is overwhelmingly young, and less than 1 percent of residents have been vaccinated so far.

The sharp rise in severe and critical cases has come just before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on Tuesday. Traditionally during Ramadan, many Palestinians in Gaza would gather for large meals after sunset, pack streets in popular commercial districts and crowd into mosques for special evening prayers. But a number of those traditions will be prohibited this year because of the pandemic, the authorities said.

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Reversing Trump, Biden Restores Aid to Palestinians

A senior Palestinian official welcomed the move but said the Palestinian leadership, based in Ramallah, still hoped Mr. Biden would reverse several other measures carried out by the Trump administration.

“This is a positive, important and constructive step in the direction of rectifying Palestinian-American relations, which the Trump administration destroyed,” said Ahmad Majdalani, the social development minister of the Palestinian Authority. “We believe it can be built upon by dealing with some other outstanding issues.”

Senator Jim Risch of Idaho and Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, both Republicans, criticized the move in a joint statement, saying that “resuming assistance to the West Bank and Gaza without concessions from the Palestinian Authority undermines U.S. interests.”

They added that they would scrutinize the package to ensure it did not breach the Taylor Force Act, which prohibits the United States from providing direct economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until it stops payments to families of Palestinians who commit violence against Israelis or Americans.

Ned Price, the State Department’s spokesman, said on Wednesday that the funding was “absolutely consistent” with American law. He indicated that any aid going to the West Bank and Gaza would be done through “development partners” and “not through governments or de facto government authorities.”

Many humanitarian groups criticized the Trump administration for having denied the United Nations agency money that it had been expecting, which hurtled it into financial crisis. Other countries helped plug some of the shortfall, but the agency has continued to operate under severe financial constraints.

United Nations officials were clearly primed for news of the resumption of aid before it was officially announced. Asked about the Biden administration’s plan, a United Nations spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, said that “there were a number of countries that had greatly reduced or halted contributions,” and that “we hope the American decision will lead others to rejoin as UNRWA donors.”

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Israel offers a hint of what post-pandemic life may look like.

Israel’s vaccination program has been remarkably swift and successful. In recent weeks, new coronavirus infections have dropped significantly, from a peak of 10,000 a day in January to a few hundred by late March. The economy has almost fully reopened.

And just as Israel became a real-world laboratory for the efficacy of the vaccine, it is now becoming a test case for a post-lockdown, post-vaccinated society.

The Green Pass, a document that can be downloaded to a smartphone, is the entry ticket.

Green Pass holders may dine indoors in restaurants, stay in hotels and attend cultural, sports and religious gatherings in the thousands both indoors and out. They can go to gyms, swimming pools and the theater. They can get married in wedding halls.

Local newspapers and television stations are advertising summer getaways for the fully vaccinated in countries prepared to take them, including Greece, Georgia and the Seychelles.

Restaurants ask those booking tables: Do you have a Green Pass? Are you vaccinated?

The system is imperfect, and, beyond the Green Pass, in many ways “system” may be an overstatement. Enforcement has been patchy. There are troubling questions about those who are not vaccinated and noisy debates playing out in real time — some landing in court — about the rules and responsibilities of the return to near normalcy.

Moreover, there’s no guarantee that this really is the start of a post-pandemic future. Any number of factors — delays in vaccine production, the emergence of a new vaccine-resistant variant and the huge numbers of Israelis who remain unvaccinated — could rip the rug out from under it.

The new world has also underscored the inequities and divides between societies with more or less access to the vaccine. Many in the West Bank and Gaza have not been able to get vaccinations yet.

The Palestinian vaccination campaign is just getting started, with doses largely donated by other countries amid a bitter debate over Israel’s legal and moral obligations for the health of people in territory it occupies. Israel has vaccinated about 100,000 Palestinians who work in Israel or in West Bank settlements but has been criticized for not doing more.

More than 5.2 million Israelis have received at least one shot of the Pfizer vaccine. About four million remain unvaccinated, half of them people under 16 who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine pending regulatory approvals and further testing on children. Hundreds of thousands of citizens who have recovered from Covid-19 were only recently included in Israel’s vaccination program.

And up to a million people have so far chosen not to get vaccinated, despite Israel’s enviable supply of doses.

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My Life in Israel’s Brave New Post-Pandemic Future

A Green Pass allows us, the vaccinated, to go to concerts, restaurants and sporting events. But Israel’s real-time experiment in post-lockdown living leaves many questions unanswered.


TEL AVIV — As the lights dimmed and the music started up, an audible wave of excitement rippled through the crowd. Somebody a few rows above me ululated with joy, as if at a Middle Eastern wedding.

I had come to Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield soccer stadium for a concert by Dikla, an Israeli singer of Iraqi and Egyptian origins, which was hailed by the city as a celebration of the “comeback of culture.” It was the first live performance I had attended in over a year. There were only 500 vaccinated Israelis in a stadium that ordinarily holds nearly 30,000 people but it felt strange and exhilarating to be in a crowd of any size after a year of intermittent lockdowns.

The audience was confined to their socially distanced seats, dancing in place and singing along through their masks. But the atmosphere was exuberant and it confirmed my status as a member of a new privileged class: the fully vaccinated.

We, a group that includes more than half of Israel’s nine million people, are getting a taste of a post-pandemic future.

new cases of Covid-19 have dropped dramatically, from a peak of 10,000 a day in January to a few hundred by late March. The economy has almost fully reopened. Just as Israel became a real-world laboratory for the efficacy of the vaccine, it is now becoming a test case for a post-lockdown, post-vaccinated society.

The Green Pass is your entry ticket.

Green Pass holders may dine indoors in restaurants, stay in hotels and attend indoor and outdoor cultural, sports and religious gatherings in the thousands. We can go to gyms, swimming pools and the theater. We can get married in wedding halls.

celebrated the spring holidays of Passover and Easter in the company of family and friends.

Local newspapers and television stations are advertising summer getaways for the fully vaccinated in countries prepared to take them, including Greece, Georgia and the Seychelles.

And when you book a table at a restaurant, they ask, Do you have a Green Pass? Are you vaccinated?

The system is imperfect, and, beyond the Green Pass, in many ways “system” may be an overstatement. Enforcement has been patchy. There are troubling questions about those who are not vaccinated and noisy debates playing out in real time — some landing in court — about the rules and responsibilities of the return to near normalcy.

Moreover, there’s no guarantee that this really is the start of a post-pandemic future. Any number of factors — delays in vaccine production, the emergence of a new vaccine-resistant variant and the huge numbers of Israelis who remain unvaccinated — could rip the rug out from under it.

post that getting vaccinated was for the common good, balancing public health against personal liberty, part of the social contract and a civic duty just like stopping at a red light.

“We have an issue here,” she said in an interview. “The world is paralyzed, people have lost their livelihoods, their health, their hope. When you put all those things on the scale, come on, just get inoculated! And if you really don’t want to, stay home.”

To solve the conundrum, and cater to under 16s, the government has allowed venues to offer rapid testing as an alternative to the Green Pass. But many business owners, responsible for ordering and financing the testing stations, have found the logistics impractical.

Unlike concerts and soccer matches, however, going to work is not a luxury for most people.

A teaching assistant at a school for children with special needs in central Israel refused to be vaccinated or, as her employer, the town of Kochav Yair-Tzur Yigal, demanded instead, present a negative Covid test on a weekly basis.

The school barred her from coming into work, with backing from the town council.

The teaching assistant, Sigal Avishai, appealed to the Labor Court in Tel Aviv. She argued that the council’s demands “impinged on her privacy” and were “without legal basis,” and that the requirement of a weekly test “was intended to pressure her into getting vaccinated contrary to her beliefs,” according to court documents.

Last month,the court ruled against her, saying her rights had to be balanced against those of the teaching staff, the children and their parents to “life, education and health,” citing the particular vulnerability of the children in question.

In a country with plenty of doses to go around, access to the vaccine is not an issue, said Gil Gan-Mor, director of the civil and social rights unit at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

In Israel, he said, “Anybody who is complaining can get the vaccine tomorrow morning.”

But in the absence of legislation, employers have been making up their own policies. At least one college of higher education was relying on the Labor Court precedent to require all staff and students to obtain a Green Pass in order to attend classes on campus.

In another case that went to court, the Health Ministry wanted to distribute lists of unvaccinated people to the local authorities so the authorities could, for example, identify unvaccinated teachers who have returned to school and try to persuade them to get vaccinated.

Citizens rights groups sued to prevent the ministry from distributing the lists, arguing that it was an invasion of privacy and that the medical information could not be adequately safeguarded. The case is before the Supreme Court.

Even where there are rules, enforcement is spotty.

The concert in Tel Aviv was the first time I was asked to show my Green Pass — and the last. My family has since spent a weekend at a B&B in the Galilee where breakfast was served in a closed room for all the guests, including unvaccinated children. A crowded Italian restaurant in the area made it clear that it was not sticking to the regulations, offering us indoor seating with a 7-year-old.

Back in Jerusalem, when I phoned to make a reservation for two at my favorite restaurant, serving pricey fresh market cuisine from a lively open kitchen, I was asked if we both had Green Passes. But when we arrived, nobody asked to see them.

The tables were placed as cozily as ever. Strangers sat shoulder to shoulder at the bar. Our young waitress was unmasked. A diner at the next table questioned how Covid-safe it all was, then shrugged and carried on with her dessert.

Some restaurant owners and managers complained that the pandemic has left them chronically short staffed and that they could not be expected to police the customers as well.

“It’s embarrassing,” said Eran Avishai, a part-owner of a Jerusalem restaurant. “I have to ask people all sorts of personal questions.” Some customers have come up with excuses and notes explaining why they have not been vaccinated, he said, and “all sorts of things that I don’t want to have to hear about.”

However, some restaurants are strictly observing the regulations, even checking the Green Pass against customers’ identity cards. Based on experience, friends are swapping tips and recommendations on Facebook regarding the entry policies of local eateries and watering holes. And at least one hipster pub in Jerusalem is asking only unfamiliar clientele to show Green Passes and using the system to keep out undesirables.

I feel a personal sense of lightness and relief as I go about my new, vaccinated life. I even caught myself the other day in the supermarket without my mask on, which is still required in public places.

We are living in splendid isolation. Virus restrictions still make most travel a daunting proposition and non-Israelis generally cannot enter the country. I miss my family overseas. Until the rest of the world catches up, we are a nation living in a bubble.

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Divided Kingdom: Jordan Shaken by Split Between King and Ex-Crown Prince

AMMAN, Jordan — The kingdom of Jordan has long been considered an oasis of relative stability in the Middle East. While wars and insurgencies flared in neighboring Syria and Iraq, Jordan was for decades considered a secure and dependable ally of the United States, a buffer against attacks on Israel, and a key interlocutor with Palestinians.

But this weekend, that placid image was upended as a long-simmering rift between the king, Abdullah II, and a former crown prince, Hamzah bin Hussein, burst into the public eye.

On Sunday the government accused Prince Hamzah, the king’s younger half-brother, of “destabilizing Jordan’s security,” making far more explicit claims about his alleged involvement than it did the evening before, when it first divulged the supposed conspiracy.

In a speech Sunday afternoon, the Jordanian foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, directly accused Prince Hamzah of working with a former finance minister, Bassem Awadallah, and a junior member of the royal family, Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, to target “the security and stability of the nation.”

released a video in which he said he had been placed under house arrest. The prince denied involvement in any plot against King Abdullah, though he did condemn the government as corrupt, incompetent and authoritarian.

By Sunday, his mother had stepped into the fray. Queen Noor — also stepmother of the king — issued a combative statement in defense of her son, saying he was the victim of “wicked slander.”

For a royal house that usually keeps disagreements private, it was a showdown of unexpected and unusual intensity.

important to any future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

The United States stations troops and aircraft in the country, keeps close ties with Jordanian intelligence, and last year provided more than $1.5 billion in aid to the Jordanian government, according to the State Department.

The rift seemed to be playing out not only for the Jordanian audience, but as a public relations war directed at Washington as well. Prince Hamzah made a video in Arabic, but also took care to release one in English.

To many international observers, the confrontation between king and prince underscored the fragility of the social structures that lie beneath Jordan’s calm facade.

The country is in the middle of a particularly brutal wave of the coronavirus. Its economy is struggling. And with 600,000 refugees from Syria, it is one of the countries most affected by the fallout from the Syrian war.

A significant proportion of Jordan’s nine million citizens are descended from Palestinians who fled to the country after the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967. The rest are native Jordanians, whose tribes have been absorbed into the structure of the state, and whose support is crucial to King Abdullah’s legitimacy, analysts say. This weekend’s imbroglio came against a backdrop of recent and very public attempts by Prince Hamzah to build closer ties with those tribes.

King Abdullah, who is 59, named Hamzah crown prince in 1999, but he stripped him of the title in 2004 and transferred it to his son, Prince Hussein, now 26.

in a statement that he had been in touch with the prince, but that he never served in any intelligence agency.

Over the weekend, different factions of the royal family made a series of claims and counterclaims.

First, Queen Noor came to the prince’s defense.

“Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander,” she wrote on Twitter. “God bless and keep them safe.”

Then came the riposte from another wing of the family.

The “seemingly blind ambition” of “Queen Noor & her sons” is “delusional, futile, unmerited,” tweeted Princess Firyal, an aunt by marriage to both the king and his half-brother.

Before deleting the tweet, she offered a word of advice: “Grow up Boys.”

Rana F. Sweis reported from Amman, and Adam Rasgon and Patrick Kingsley from Jerusalem.

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‘Like a Miracle’: Israel’s Vaccine Success Allows Easter Crowds in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — On Friday morning, in the Old City of Jerusalem, in the limestone alleys of the Christian quarter, it was as if the pandemic had never happened.

The winding passageways that form the Via Dolorosa, along which Christians believe Jesus hauled his cross toward his crucifixion, were packed with over 1,000 worshipers. In the covered market, the air smelled of incense and echoed with Christian hymns. The Good Friday procession, where the faithful retrace the route Jesus is said to have taken, was back.

“It is like a miracle,” said the Rev. Amjad Sabbara, a Roman Catholic priest who helped lead the procession. “We’re not doing this online. We’re seeing the people in front of us.”

world-leading vaccine rollout, religious life in Jerusalem is edging back to normal. And on Friday, that brought crowds once again to the city’s streets, and relief to even one of Christianity’s most solemn commemorations: the Good Friday procession.

designed the neighborhood’s street signs. “The locals can celebrate, yes. But something is still missing.”

The mood among Christians a few miles away, in the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah, was even less jubilant. Christians in the occupied territories can visit Jerusalem only with a special permit, which has become even harder to procure during the pandemic. While most Israelis are now vaccinated, the vast majority of Palestinians haven’t received a dose.

Israel has supplied vaccines to more than 100,000 Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, almost all of whom work in Israel or West Bank settlements. Palestinian officials have obtained around 150,000 more doses.

says it isn’t obliged to vaccinate the rest of the Palestinian population, citing a clause of the Oslo peace accords of the 1990s, which transferred health care duties to Palestinian officials. Critics say it is still Israel’s responsibility to help, citing international legislation that requires an occupying power to oversee health care for occupied populations, as well as a separate clause of the Oslo accords that says Israel must work with Palestinians during epidemics.

Either way, infection rates are still high in the occupied territories and vaccination rates are low — and that has limited the number of Palestinian Christians granted permission to enter Jerusalem for Easter this year. A spokesperson for the Israeli government declined to reveal the final number.

“Without permits, we cannot come,” said the Rev. Jamal Khader, the Roman Catholic parish priest in Ramallah. “It’s a sign of the continuous presence of occupation and the limitations on movement.”

But Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection still provide spiritual nourishment for a despondent population, said Father Khader, who is allowed to enter Jerusalem through his work with the church.

“We identify with the sufferings of Christ on Good Friday,” he said.

“Then,” he added, “we find some hope on Easter Sunday.”

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Palestinian Militant Will Challenge Abbas’s Party in Election

JERUSALEM — A popular Palestinian militant broke with the political party that controls the Palestinian Authority late Wednesday, escalating a power struggle and dimming the party’s hopes of retaining a monopoly on power in parliamentary elections.

The militant, Marwan Barghouti, 61, was long a revered figure in Fatah, the secular party that runs the Palestinian Authority and was co-founded by Yasir Arafat, the former Palestinian leader. Though serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli prison for five counts of murder, Mr. Barghouti commands considerable respect among many party cadres and is considered a potential future candidate for Palestinian president.

On Wednesday night, Fatah members acting on his behalf broke with the party, forming a separate electoral slate that will compete against Fatah in the elections in May and posing a direct challenge to Fatah’s 85-year-old leader, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Barghouti’s faction joined forces with another longtime protagonist of Palestinian politics, Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of Mr. Arafat and a former Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, who split from Fatah this year.

before withdrawing and supporting Mr. Abbas. He had been a leader of the Palestinian uprisings in late 1980s and early 2000s, and was convicted in 2004 for involvement in the killings of five Israelis.

He was sentenced to five life terms and campaigned for office from his jail cell.

Fatah’s supporters will now be forced to choose among three Fatah-linked factions — the official party, the Barghouti-al-Kidwa alliance, and a third splinter group led by an exiled former security chief, Muhammad Dahlan.

Members of Mr. Barghouti’s alliance said they had created the new faction to revitalize Palestinian politics, which has increasingly become a one-man show centered around Mr. Abbas, who has ruled by decree for more than a decade.

“The Palestinian political system can no longer only be reformed,” said Hani al-Masri, a member of the new alliance, at a news briefing on Wednesday night. “It needs deep change.”

A Fatah official dismissed the group as “turncoats.”

“Even with our prophet Mohammed, there were turncoats,” said Jibril Rajoub, the secretary-general of the Fatah Central Committee, at a separate press briefing outside in Ramallah, West Bank. “Fatah is strong and sticking together.”

Mr. Abbas has canceled elections in the past, and some believe he may seek to do so again in the coming weeks.

But at this point, a cancellation would be “very expensive, politically,” said Ghassan Khatib, a Ramallah-based political analyst and a former minister under Mr. Abbas. “There is a high political price for that.”

Mr. Abbas’s best hope would be for the Israeli authorities to intervene in the elections, Mr. Khatib said. Hamas has already accused Israel of arresting some of its leaders and warning them not to participate in the election, which Israel denies. And Palestinian officials say that the Israeli government has yet to respond to a request to allow voting in East Jerusalem.

This dynamic that could give Mr. Abbas a pretext to cancel the vote.

Mr. Abbas “needs an excuse that can justify such a decision,” Mr. Khatib said.

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China, With $400 Billion Iran Deal, Could Deepen Influence in Mideast

China agreed to invest $400 billion in Iran over 25 years in exchange for a steady supply of oil to fuel its growing economy under a sweeping economic and security agreement signed on Saturday.

The deal could deepen China’s influence in the Middle East and undercut American efforts to keep Iran isolated. But it was not immediately clear how much of the agreement can be implemented while the international dispute over Iran’s nuclear program remains unresolved.

President Biden has offered to resume negotiations with Iran over the 2015 nuclear accord that his predecessor, President Trump, abrogated three years after it was signed. But he says Iran must first commit to adhering to the terms of the agreement.

demanding that the United States act first to revive the deal it broke by lifting unilateral sanctions that have suffocated the Iranian economy. China was one of five world powers that, along with the U.S., signed the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

draft obtained last year by The New York Times.

That draft detailed $400 billion of Chinese investments to be made in dozens of fields, including banking, telecommunications, ports, railways, health care and information technology, over the next 25 years. In exchange, China would receive a regular — and, according to an Iranian official and an oil trader, heavily discounted — supply of Iranian oil.

a 2016 visit — as a breakthrough. But it has been met with criticism inside Iran that the government could be giving too much away to China.

Hesamoddin Ashena, a top adviser to President Hassan Rouhani, called the deal “an example of a successful diplomacy” on Twitter, saying it was a sign of Iran’s power “to participate in coalitions, not to remain in isolation.” He called it “an important decree for long-term cooperation after long negotiations and joint work.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, called the document a “complete road map” of relations for the next quarter century.

Mr. Wang has already visited Iran’s archrival, Saudi Arabia, as well as Turkey, and is scheduled to go to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman in the days ahead. He has said that the region is at a crossroads and offered China’s help in resolving persistent disputes, including over Iran’s nuclear program.

China is even ready to play host to direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, hinting that American dominance in the region has hindered peace and development.

like Sri Lanka.

Supporters of the deal said that Iran had to be pragmatic and recognize China’s growing economic prominence.

accusations that the company was furtively trading with Iran in violation of those sanctions.

Ms. Hua, the foreign ministry spokeswoman in Beijing, emphasized that both countries needed to take steps to resolve the nuclear dispute.

“The pressing task is for the U.S. to take substantive measures to lift its unilateral sanctions on Iran and long-arm jurisdiction on third parties,” she said, “and for Iran to resume reciprocal compliance with its nuclear commitments in an effort to achieve an early harvest.”

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Arab Party Could Break Israel Election Deadlock

JERUSALEM — After a fourth Israeli election in two years appears to have ended in another stalemate, leaving many Israelis feeling trapped in an endless loop, there was at least one surprising result on Wednesday: An Arab political party has emerged as a potential kingmaker.

Even more surprising, the party was Raam, an Islamist group with roots in the same religious movement as Hamas, the militant group that runs the Gaza Strip. For years, Raam was rarely interested in working with the Israeli leadership and, like most Arab parties, was ostracized by its Jewish counterparts.

But according to the latest vote count, Raam’s five seats hold the balance of power between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc and the motley alliance of parties that seeks to end his 12 years in power. The vote tally is not yet final, and Raam has previously suggested it would only support a government from the outside.

Still, even the possibility of Raam playing a deciding role in the formation of a coalition government is making waves in Israel. An independent Arab party has never been part of an Israeli government before, although some Arab lawmakers supported Yitzhak Rabin’s government from the outside in the 1990s.

Mansour Abbas, the party’s leader, said in a television interview on Wednesday. In the past, he added, mainstream parties “were excluding us and we were excluding ourselves. Today, Raam is at least challenging the political system. It is saying, ‘Friends, we exist here.’”

The party is not in “anyone’s pocket,” he added. “I am not ruling out anyone but if someone rules us out, then we will of course rule him out.”

leave the country.

legislation that downgraded the status of the Arabic language and said that only Jews had the right to determine the nature of the Israeli state. In a previous election, Mr. Netanyahu warned of high Arab turnout as a threat to encourage his own supporters to vote.

Raam would also be cooperating with an alliance that includes far-right politicians who want to expel Arab citizens of Israel they deem “disloyal” to the Israeli state. One of those politicians, Itamar Ben Gvir, until recently hung in his home a picture of a Jewish extremist who murdered 29 Palestinian Muslims in a West Bank mosque in 1994.

But Mr. Abbas is prepared to consider these possible associations because he believes it is the only way for Arab citizens to secure government support in the fight against the central problems assailing the Arab community — gang violence, poverty and restrictions on their access to housing, land and planning permission.

In the past, “Arab politicians have been onlookers in the political process in Israel,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in February. Today, he added, “Arabs are looking for a real role in Israeli politics.”

The move would mark the culmination of a gradual process in which Arab parties and voters have grown incrementally more involved in the electoral process.

Raam, a Hebrew acronym that stands for the United Arab List, is affiliated with a branch of an Islamist movement that for years did not participate in Israeli elections. Raam was founded in 1996 after some members of that movement voted by a narrow margin to run for Parliament, an event that split the movement in two. The other branch, which Israel has outlawed and whose leader it has jailed, does not participate in elections.

the third-largest party in three recent Israeli elections, in a sign of the Arab minority’s growing political sway.

said if a right-wing government of Zionist parties was impossible to assemble, his party would consider “options that are currently undesirable but perhaps better than a fifth election.”

Raam’s newfound relevance constitutes “a historical moment,” said Basha’er Fahoum-Jayoussi, the co-chairwoman of the board of the Abraham Initiatives, a nongovernmental group that promotes equality between Arabs and Jews. “The Arab vote is not only being legitimized but the Palestinian-Arab community in Israel is being recognized as a political power with the ability to play an active and influential part in the political arena.”

The news was also greeted happily in the Negev desert, where dozens of Arab villages are threatened with demolition because they were built without authorization.

Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List, has accused Mr. Abbas of assenting to a relationship with the Israeli state that frames Arabs as subjects who can be bought off, rather than as citizens with equal rights.

“Mansour Abbas is capable of accepting this,” Mr. Odeh said in an interview before the election. “But I will not.”

Irit Pazner Garshowitz and Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.

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