Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, who several weeks ago said she was defecting from the coalition but was then brought back in, claims in an Arabic-language interview that to persuade her to return, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid promised her to repopulate two Arab villages whose residents were expelled in 1948.
“We started working, but it was thwarted,” she says, referring to the plan to revive the Galilee communities of Iqrit and Biram.
Opposition figures, including opposition chief Benjamin Netanyahu, are quick to blast Lapid for allegedly planning to accept the Palestinian “right of return,” referring to the return of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled during the Independence War surrounding Israel’s creation.
Israel says accepting such a demand would be the end of its existence as a Jewish state, adding that hundreds of thousands of Jews were similarly expelled from neighboring Arab countries.
Lapid denies Rinawie Zoabi’s claim, tweeting that it is a “hallucination.”