Sources: Coalition Crisis Reaching an End

Aerial view of the Knesset. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

The crisis in Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition will be over by Monday, sources in the coalition said Motzoei Shabbos after meetings with Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi.

The MK met for two hours earlier in the day with Meretz Minister Esawi Frej and discussed her demands. She is asking to increase state funding for the French Hospital in Nazareth.

Bennett called for avoiding elections and keeping his government together on Friday, in his first comments since Rinawie Zoabi announced that she was leaving the coalition to protest a series of issues important to the Arab community in Israel.

The prime minister said giving up on his coalition now would be wrong, despite all the challenges facing its MKs across the political spectrum.

“It is correct that it is difficult,” he wrote on social media. “But the future of the state is in danger. We must fight and defeat Palestinian terror and we must fight to maintain the unity of our nation internally. We have no other country. Therefore we all must stand strong.”

In a series of radio interviews on Friday, Rinawie Zoabi appeared to backtrack from her decision to leave the coalition completely.

“I will support the coalition as long as it is attentive to the needs of Arab society,” she told Army Radio.

Sources close to Bennett said he was disturbed by how she initiated her protest, surprising the prime minister and other leaders of the government by publishing a protest letter in the media instead of raising her concerns internally.

“This is not the kind of behavior that gets you a meeting with the prime minister,” a source close to Bennett said.

Rinawie Zoabi spoke on Friday to her party leader Nitzan Horowitz, who tried to persuade her to remain in the coalition, and if not, to give up her seat in the Knesset in favor of the next candidate on the Meretz list.

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