Meretz MK Resigns From the Coalition; Down to 59 MKs

View of the main building of the Knesset. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A Meretz MK announced Thursday that she will resign from the coalition – the latest blow to the government, which was already in tatters after MK Idit Silman left the coalition last month.

The letter of MK Zoabi to Prime Minister Bennett.

MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that she plans on leaving the coalition, and will not be serving as consul-general to Shanghai.

“I entered politics because I saw myself as an emissary of Arab society, which I represent,” Zoabi wrote. “Unfortunately over the last few months for narrow political reasons, the heads of the coalition preferred to strengthen their right side. Again and again, the heads of the coalition preferred to take harsh right-wing steps on key issues related to Arab society.”

She cited the Al Aqsa, Har HaBayis, Sheikh Jarrah, settlements, house demolitions, the Citizenship Law and land confiscations in the Negev.

“When it came to the needs of Arab society and communities, housing, employment and education, they were indifferent,” said Zoabi.

Zoabi’s departure will give the opposition a majority of 61 to 59 MKs and could bring about an election in the fall and as early as mid-September. Bennett, Lapid and Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz were said to have all been taken by surprise by Zoabi’s decision.

Bennett’s coalition has been unstable since Yamina MK Idit Silman defected to the opposition in April, taking away the government’s slim majority and bringing Bennett’s presence in the coalition to only five seats, unprecedented for an Israeli prime minister.

Based on the coalition agreement between Bennett and Lapid, if Zoabi’s defection to the opposition brings about new elections, Bennett will remain Israel’s interim prime minister. If the government were to fall due to a move by a member of the government’s right-wing bloc, Lapid would have taken over as the interim prime minister.

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