Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, a lawmaker from the left-wing Meretz party, said she opposed what she called the government’s shift to the right, accusing her of “shameless harassment of the society I come from”.
Her resignation means Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has the support of just 59 of the Knesset’s 120 members and now heads a minority government – possibly signaling yet another round of elections in the country after years of political instability.
“In recent months, for narrow political reasons, coalition leaders have chosen to maintain and strengthen the right-wing flank,” Rinawie Zoabi wrote in her unexpected resignation letter on Thursday. “The last month, the month of Ramadan, has been unbearably difficult,” she added.
“The scenes from the Temple Mount of violent police officers confronting a crowd of worshipers, and the funeral of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, led me to only one worthwhile conclusion: no more,” wrote Rinawie Zoabi. “I cannot continue to support the existence of a coalition that shamefully harass the society I come from.”
The Temple Mount is the holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem, known in Arabic as the Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary, which contains the Al Aqsa Mosque.
“I believed and still believe in Arab-Jewish coexistence with every part of my being, in academia, business and politics,” wrote Rinawie Zoabi in her letter. “I also believe and continue to believe that a true Jewish-Arab partnership must come from a place of equality, where both sides must come face to face.”
The resignation of Rinawie Zoabi does not automatically mean the fall of Bennett’s 11-month-old government. But opposition leaders could push for a fifth parliamentary election in four years and secure it if they get the backing of the Knesset, where the government is now in a minority.
Bennett took charge on a rotating basis with centrist leader and current Secretary of State Yair Lapid, who last year brought together a large and fragile coalition of political parties, including Meretz. Lapid will switch roles with Bennett for the last two years of their four-year term, if the government holds out that long.
No decision made on Abu Akleh probe, IDF . says
The shocking political resignation came amid mounting tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
“A decision on the need for an MPCID investigation will be made by Military Advocacy, in accordance with the findings of the ongoing operational investigation, as is customary in such cases,” the IDF said in a statement.
It is IDF policy that no criminal investigation is automatically initiated if a person dies during an active combat situation unless a credible and immediate suspicion of a criminal offense is established during the event.
Tony Abu Akleh, Shireen Abu Akleh’s brother, told DailyExpertNews he was not surprised by the news that there would be no criminal investigation.
“For our part … we will continue the investigation and conduct a fair investigation into the murder of my sister Shireen, and we will also emphasize the importance of the US government taking immediate action to fully prosecute those responsible and responsible according to the law,” he said.
“Shireen is a US citizen who was murdered abroad and the US must take immediate action to investigate this crime and her murder of a female American journalist,” he argued.
Israel’s human rights group Yesh Din said on Thursday that not investigating the murder would be “not the exception, but rather the rule.”
“This system has proven time and again that it is unable and unwilling to conduct investigations and prosecutions to the standards required by international law,” Ziv Stahl, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement.
The group released its analysis of data from 2019 and 2020 and said the chance that a Palestinian would see his or her complaint result in the prosecution of a soldier was only 2%. The group also said that 72% of complaints filed between 2019 and 2020 about suspected crimes committed by soldiers against Palestinians were closed without criminal investigation.