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Meretz MK speaks of ‘complex’ coalition after warning she wouldn’t back war

Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi doesn’t clarify what her red lines are in regards to military action; says she and other MKs have had to vote on ‘difficult’ decisions recently

MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi attends a Knesset committee meeting in Jerusalem on June 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi attends a Knesset committee meeting in Jerusalem on June 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

After warning last week she might support toppling the government if it decides on military action, Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi in a Saturday television interview said the situation in the coalition was “complex” and that she was in the government to back peace.

“My position is very clear: I support peace and I strive for peace, and for me, peace is not just a slogan,” Rinawie Zoabi told Kan news on Saturday. She did not specify what kind of military action, or against whom, she was talking about.

Last week, Rinawie Zoabi caused a stir after telling the network’s Arabic-language radio station, Makan, that “the moment the government decides on something military, there will be a danger to the coalition.”

“The government agreed that it would only deal with economic and civil matters. Bennett knows that if the government goes to a military confrontation, the coalition will fall because Meretz and Ra’am will not agree to such a thing,” she added, referring to the Islamist party that is also a member of the coalition.

Her comments came following an exchange of fire between the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon, and the Israel Defense Forces.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party said Rinawie Zoabi’s comments showed that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government is held hostage by far-left elements.

“Bennett and [Yair] Lapid have also failed in security, and today their coalition member… told the truth,” the party tweeted at the time.

“Bennett is unable to maintain Israel’s security because his government depends on Mansour Abbas and the extreme left,” Likud added, referring to the leader of the Islamist Ra’am.

When asked on Saturday what exactly her red lines were in regards to military action, Rinawie Zoabi would not say.

“At the end of the day, this coalition is complex… and there is a balance it needs to maintain. I came to the Knesset to support peace, and reach agreements with the Palestinians and Arab countries,” she said, in what appeared to be in line with Meretz’s platform.

But there have been disagreements between the MK and the party on other issues.

“I am part of Meretz and the coalition, but there are issues we do not agree on. I went to the Meretz management and said I have demands for the Arab community that I represent,” she said, adding that “in recent months, many MKs from Meretz and other parties in the coalition have had to vote on difficult [issues].”

Ra’am MK Mazen Ghanaim also vowed to quit the government if Israel were to conduct strikes in the Gaza Strip or Lebanon. But he also denied that Ra’am was holding the government hostage, and said he wants the coalition to hold together.

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