After threatening to leave, MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi of Meretz is returning to the coalition fold. At the end of a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at which Rinawie Zoabi was backed by heads of Arab local authorities, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid announced that she was returning to the coalition. The threat of a bill to dissolve the Knesset being given a first reading tomorrow has thereby been averted.
“I welcome MK Rinawie Zoabi back to the coalition. We conducted an open, candid, temperate discussion of the real needs of the Arab community, both with her and with the heads of the local authorities, whom I thank for coming and rallying round. We have put this dispute behind us, and we are getting back to work in the government,” Lapid said.
At an earlier meeting, the demand arose for budgets for Arab local authorities, although here it is not clear whether this is a matter of new budgets or of those promised a week ago to Mansour Abbas, leader of the United Arab List (which is part of the coalition), from the Ministry of the Interior.
Coalition sources deny that any demand arose to divert the route of the Jerusalem Day march from the Damascus Gate, but they refused to disclose details of what Rinawie Zoabi received in return for resuming her role as a member of the coalition in the Knesset. Rinawie Zoabi announced on Thursday afternoon that she could not continue to support the coalition because of the behavior of the Israel Police in dealing with disturbances by Palestinians on the Temple Mount and because of the government’s right-wing policies.
After the meeting with Lapid, Rinawie Zoabi said, “I come from Arab local government, where I grew up politically. Now I am in the Knesset in order to benefit the Arab community. After huge pressure brought to bear on me by heads of Arab local authorities, who understand the significance of my resignation from the coalition, I agreed to the meeting today, and I came with them to meet Minister Lapid. I want to say that I am aware and understand that the alternative to this government is that the next police minister will be Ben Gvir, and I want to prevent that alternative.
“Therefore, since I am here to serve the local authorities and provide for the needs of the Arab community, I will support the coalition. But I want the government to be genuine, and attentive to the Arab community and its needs in health, education, housing, and infrastructure.”
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Nazareth mayor Ali Salam welcomed Rinawie Zoabi’s return to the coalition. “We have come to support member of Knesset Rinawie Zoabi, because we care about her and we care about the Arab community and the country,” he said. “We could not stand aside without meeting her and returning her to the government. We will not let anyone break up the government. We sat with her for days until we persuaded her, and here we are sitting with the alternate prime minister of Israel.”
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on May 23, 2022.
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