05/23/2022, 17.19
ISRAEL
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Arab Israeli lawmaker re-joins ruling coalition but the Bennett government remains fragile

Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi is back in the governing fold after a meeting yesterday with the deputy premier and local officials. Strong pressures got her to reverse her decision. Meanwhile Prime Minister Bennett lost a second close aide, while some lawmakers threaten to quit. With 60 out of 120 seats in the Knesset, the government’s fate is uncertain.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, an Arab Israeli Member of the Knesset, has reversed her decision to quit the ruling coalition.

The government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is fragile, and can only count on 60 out of 120 seats in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Its future is still uncertain as it might suffer more defections in the future, starting with Nir Orbach, an MK with the Yamina party.

Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi’s resignation last Thursday placed the government in a minority situation for the first time. Yesterday, she changed her mind but this might not bring stability to the highly diverse and fragmented ruling

The coalition of eight parties led by a nationalist leader has been in office for less than a year. Profound differences, ideological or otherwise, separate the eight parties.

The violence by Jewish settlers and attacks against Israeli civilians have brought to the fore such divisions, as has the killing of Palestinian Christian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

For the first time since the State of Israel was founded in 1948, an Israeli Arab party is part of a ruling coalition. Israeli Arabs, who represent 20 per cent of the country’s population, are formally equal to Israeli Jews, but they often complain of discriminatory acts and policies against them.

A member of the Meretz party, Zoabi resigned in protest over repressive and harsh policies regarding “basic issues "of utmost importance for Arab society”. Recent events weighed heavily on her decision, including the violence that broke out at Abu Akleh’s funeral in Jerusalem, which was also harshly condemned by the Churches in the Holy Land.

Following a meeting with Deputy Premier Yair Lapid and eight Israeli Arab mayors yesterday, Zoabi announced her return to the government majority. The desire to “help improve” the conditions of the Israeli Arab community and the “pressure” by local leaders convinced her to re-join the ruling coalition.

The Arab MK was the second lawmaker to resign after a member of Prime Minister Bennett’s own right-wing Yamina party left accusing the government for “harming ... the Jewish identity” of the state.

At present, the government can count on half the seats, but new clouds are gathering on the horizon. Nir Orbach, also from Yamina, has threatened to leave in the next few days slamming the government for capitulating to Arabs.

According to Channel 13, Orbach is "on the edge", openly expressing his concerns, and ready “to be out quicker than they may think”.

Complicating matters, Prime Minister Bennett has lost an important adviser two weeks after the resignation of another senior aide who worked with him for years.

The now former aide cited “considerable sacrifices in (her) personal life”, but for Israeli media this is a sign of a feud among Bennett's closest advisers, and his days in power now appear to be at an end.

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