Arab Israeli lawmaker joins coalition days after quitting

An Arab Israeli lawmaker who left the ruling coalition says she is returning to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s 60-member alliance, ending a political crisis that only lasted a few days

JERUSALEM — An Arab Israeli lawmaker who quit the ruling coalition said Sunday she was returning to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s 60-member alliance, ending a crisis that lasted just a few days.

Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi said Thursday she was quitting Bennett’s coalition, leaving it with just 59 members in Israel’s 120-seat parliament. She cited the government’s radical policies in Jerusalem and settlement building in the West Bank which she said alienated her constituents, the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Recent Israeli-Palestinian tensions, sparked by several deadly Palestinian attacks on Israel and Israeli arrest raids in the occupied West Bank, and fueled by repeated clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at a holy site in Jerusalem, have shaken the coalition stability.

But on Sunday, Rinawie Zoabi backtracked, saying her main concern was to ensure “achievements for the needs of Arab society” in Israel, and to prevent an ultra-nationalist opposition extremist from becoming the next minister in Israel. police charge.

She made the announcement of her return to the coalition’s ranks after meeting Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who wrote on Twitter that the two had “an open and reasonable conversation about the real needs of Arab society. and put aside their disagreements.

As leader of a small nationalist party, Bennett leads an unwieldy coalition of eight diverse parties – from pacifist factions supporting the Palestinian state to ultranationalists and, for the first time in Israel’s history, an Arab Islamist party. . They joined forces in June after four consecutive deadlocked elections in a bid to oust longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption.

As part of their union, the parties agreed to set aside divisive issues, such as the establishment of a Palestinian state, and instead focus on topics such as the coronavirus pandemic and the economy. Despite his internal divisions, he managed to pass a budget, navigate the pandemic and strengthen his relationship with the Biden administration and Israel’s Arab allies.

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