JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A lawmaker from Israel’s Arab minority said on Sunday she was returning to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition, reinstating her precariousness over half the seats in parliament after briefly solidarising with the Palestinians.
Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, of the liberal Meretz party, said in a statement that she had backtracked in order to “make progress in meeting the needs of the Arab community” and after several of her local leaders placed her “under immense pressure” to do so.
His walkout on Thursday left Bennett’s alliance of nationalist, centrist, left-wing and Arab parties in control of 59 of the Knesset’s 120 seats. This made him vulnerable to any parliamentary vote to dissolve the government.
Zoabi said she was leaving to protest an escalation of violence at a Jerusalem holy site as well as Israeli police tactics at the May 13 funeral of a Palestinian journalist.
Welcoming his return to the coalition, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he and Zoabi had “held an open, frank and circumspect dialogue on the real needs of Arab society”.
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Arabs, mostly Muslims, make up 21% of Israel’s population and often complain of discrimination from the Jewish majority. Many of them identify with the Palestinians.
Bennett’s coalition lost its slim majority last month when an MP from his own party resigned.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
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