Jerusalem24 – Meretz lawmaker Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi announced on Thursday her resignation from Israel’s ruling government, leaving Bennett’s coalition with only 59 out of the Knesset’s 120 seats, two short of a majority.
Israeli media has been speculating about the imminent collapse of Bennett’s government for the past several weeks.
In her resignation letter, Rinawie Zoabi wrote that she had joined the coalition in the hopes that Arabs and Jews working together in the coalition might help bring about “a new path of equality and respect,” but that the coalition leader had chosen to boost its right-wing and took “hawkish, hard-line, and right-wing positions.”
In the letter, Rinawie Zoabi cited violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the attack of Israeli police on the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed by Israeli forces last Wednesday, as leading her to make “a moral decision.”
Israeli affairs expert Esmat Mansour told Jerusalem24 that it could be understood from the resignation letter that Rinawie Zoabi is not satisfied with the policies of the government. She had previously voted against a government-sponsored bill on restricting family unification for Palestinians. The vote was tied as a result and the bill failed to pass (though it passed two weeks later when it was brought up for a vote again).
However, Mansour confirmed that Rinawie Zoabi is still serving as a lawmaker in the Knesset
“As an initial analysis, I think she wants the government to fall,” Mansour said. “This is the beginning of the end for this government.”
If the Likud decides to withhold confidence from the government in the coming days, the government will be the minority and it will collapse, Mansour explained.
“According to the coalition law if the government falls due to a left party and the PM was of the left, he would be prohibited from leading the transitional government, and vice versa – which will affect Lapid’s chances of leading, and keeping Naftali Bennett, causing a legal controversy.”
Mansour said that if the current government is to fall, the elections would be held in September or October.
However if Benjamin Netanyahu, the current leader of the opposition, succeeds in forming a government beforehand, the elections will not need to proceed as Netanyahu will once again serve as Israel’s Prime Minister.