August 18, 2022

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Lapid and Bennett to Meet Coalition Chiefs amidst Political Crisis

3 min read

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett were scheduled to meet with the head of the parties in the coalition. The summer session of the Knesset is coming up and the government has lost its parliamentary majority, bringing it close to a collapse. One of the most important questions is whether the Ra’am party will return to the coalition, after it had temporarily frozen its involvement due to the unrest and riots that had occurred last month at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount. Mansour Abbas, the chief of the Islamist Arab party, is not expected to be part of the meeting on Sunday because he is currently abroad.

According to media reports, the head of the party had been trying to convince the Shura Council, which is its religious advisory body, to not take any further drastic actions where the coalition is concerned. On Saturday, Abbas said that his party would consider the position of King Abdullah II of Jordan to determine their own position regarding the Al Aqsa Mosque matter, as they are the rightful custodians of it. Muslims regard it as the Al Aqsa Complex or Haram-al-Sharif and it is the third holiest site in their religion. As for Judaism, it is known as Temple Mount and is the holiest site in the religion. 

The tensions over the site have led to terror attacks, threats from Hamas, increasing pressure from allies of Israel and have ended up exacerbating the ongoing crisis of the coalition. Currently, only 60 seats in the parliament belong to the coalition, which is half of the total 120 seats in the Knesset. If Ra’am decides to pull out its four seats, the government will end up in minority. Abbas stated in an interview on Friday that his party is not going to bring down the government and that they are working with Jordan to resolve the rising tensions. 

Meanwhile, media reports indicated on Saturday that the Biden administration had been informed by Israeli officials that the coalition will fall apart if the government does not move forward with building about 4,000 homes in the West Bank settlements. The officials had said that the coalition should meet the commitments that were made to the voters and right-wing parties and if they do not do so, the government would most likely fall. On Saturday, Esawi Frej, the Regional Cooperation Minister, who belongs to the Meretz party, complained that the right-wing parties of the coalition were taking advantage of the fact that the left side could not bring down the government for pushing issues like settlement construction.

The current government comprises of the Yamina party of Naftali Bennett, the Islamist Ra’am party as well as the left-wing Meretz party. It had been formed last year in June after a parliamentary majority could not be secured by Benjamin Netanyahu in the fourth elections held within two years. Now, the coalition is on life support after a Yamina lawmaker decided to join the opposition, thereby depriving the government of the majority it had. 

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