Coalition in Minority as Meretz MK Rinawie Zoabi Quits

On Thursday afternoon, Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, the MK belonging to the left-wing party, quit the coalition, which reduced it to a minority in the Knesset and brought it to the edge of collapse. Rinawie Zoabi wrote a letter addressed to the leaders of the coalition, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, the Foreign Minister. She stated in her letter that the government’s rightward shift had prompted her to resign. She stated that in recent months, the coalition leaders had opted to strengthen and preserve the right-wing flank due to narrow political considerations. The MK had already been giving a headache to her colleagues because of her refusal to vote in favor of the coalition on key bills.

She had been scheduled to be sent off to Shanghai for serving as the Israeli consul in China. However, a spokesperson revealed that when she left the coalition, the MK had chosen to withdraw her nomination as well. The departure of Rinawie Zoabi comes just six weeks after Yamina MK and former coalition whip Idit Silman had also resigned from the coalition. Her departure had taken away the majority of the coalition and pushed it to parity with the opposition, with 60 seats each. But, with Rinawie Zoabi’s defection, the coalition is now 59 to 61 with the opposition.

The left-wing lawmaker said in her resignation letter that ‘hawkish stances’ had been adopted by the deeply divided coalition when it comes to issues that are critical to Arab society. She highlighted the demolition of homes of the Palestinians that had been built without permits and also mentioned the controversial law that denies permanent residency to Palestinians in Israel, even if they are married to Israelis. Talking about the past month, the MK said that it had been ‘insufferable’. There had been clashes between the police and the Palestinians on Temple Mount in Jerusalem and an Al Jazeera journalist was also shot to death in a firefight between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin.

50-year old Rinawie Zoabi belongs to Nazareth, the Arab city located in Northern Israel. She had made her entry into politics in the Knesset election of 2021 and before that, she had been leading a nonprofit working on improving the local Arab government. Talking about Arab Israelis, she said she couldn’t work with a coalition that was harassing the society she is from shamelessly. The Meretz party also learnt of her resignation when reports of it surfaced on Thursday afternoon. A spokesperson for her declined to comment on whether she had informed other party members about her decision. 

The spokesperson added that the MK did not have any immediate conditions or demands under which she might return to the coalition. As for the coalition itself, it will have to be brought down by the opposition. The opposition now holds a 61 seat majority, which means that it can now attack the flagging government. The Likud party of the opposition had planned to bring a bill last week for dissolving the Knesset and holding fresh elections, but did not have the support needed.

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