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Coalition roiled anew after lawmaker says Ra’am Temple Mount demands being mulled

Yamina lashes out at Yair Golan, and MK asks if he is trying to break coalition apart by proclaiming he’s ‘proud’ Islamist party’s ultimatum is under consideration

Deputy Economy and Industry Minister Yair Golan, a legislator with the dovish Meretz party, poses during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on January 17, 2022. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)
Deputy Economy and Industry Minister Yair Golan, a legislator with the dovish Meretz party, poses during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on January 17, 2022. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)

In a new instance of infighting within the coalition, the Yamina party on Wednesday launched an attack on deputy minister Yair Golan, after he said the government was “proudly” considering demands made by the Ra’am party regarding the Temple Mount.

The Islamist Ra’am froze its participation in the coalition earlier this week as pressure mounted on it over the ongoing tensions in Jerusalem. The party also issued a list of demands to be met for it to rejoin, including returning the Temple Mount to a pre-2000 status quo, in which, Ra’am said, police coordinated with the Jordanian-controlled Waqf administering the site on visits by non-Muslims.

Asked by Channel 12 whether the government’s recent decisions aimed at easing tensions at the Jerusalem holy site were influenced by the Arab party’s membership in the coalition, the Meretz MK said that “their considerations and interests are certainly taken into account — and we are proud of that.”

Golan also said that Ra’am’s demands need to be considered, adding that there was no need “to fear saying this out loud, we are proud of it.”

Fellow coalition members from the right-wing Yamina quickly lashed out at Golan.

“Yair, let me understand. Are you trying to dismantle the government?” tweeted Nir Orbach, a Yamina MK who last week issued his own list of demands and threatened to dismantle the coalition. His post was retweeted by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, also of Yamina.

Yamina MK Nir Orbach attends a Knesset committee meeting on September 25, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In a statement, the Yamina party rejected the comments from Golan, a former general who is one of the government’s most dovish members.

“The Temple Mount is under total Israeli sovereignty, and any decisions made will be done so in light of the security considerations of the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, which enshrines freedom of religion for all,” it said, accusing Golan of “doing all he can to dismantle the government.”

The government is already on the brink of collapse after MK Idit Silman, a member of Yamina, bolted the coalition, erasing its razor-thin majority. The 120-member Knesset is now deadlocked, with both the coalition and opposition holding 60 seats apiece.

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