Health Minister and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz attacked MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi in an interview with the Army Radio this morning, calling her resignation from the coalition "disgusting and dishonest behavior."
"We have no connection to this woman. She lost her way,” he said, adding that “even in our politics, in which people do dishonest things, I think it's an act that has really crossed all the red lines."
Zoabi resigned from the coalition in May and then returned – though she refrained from voting in the decisive vote on the renewal of West Bank 'emergency' regulations.
In a letter explaining her initial decision to bolt the coalition, Zoabi cited Israeli attacks against Palestinian worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the police's conduct at the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as driving a "moral decision.” Her move left the coalition with just 59 seats, two shy of a majority.
She rescinded her resignation three days later, stating that she had been put under massive pressure from local Arab government leaders, who approached her and assured her that they "understood the reasons" behind her resignation from the coalition, after which she agreed to meet with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.
She explained that she understood that "the alternative to this government would result in Ben Gvir serving as public security minister," referring to the controversial far-right lawmaker known to denounce Arab lawmakers and hold Kahanist views. In order to prevent this alternative, Zoabi says she has returned to "serve local authorities and help them fulfill the needs of Arab society.”
After her return, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expressed confidence that "the government will overcome all crises," and said that he believed that the Meretz parliamentarian seems as though she "is on her way back.”
Following her return, however, sources in Bennett's party said right-wing lawmaker Nir Orbach was in "serious discussions" with Likud lawmaker Yariv Levin about possibly defecting to the opposition, leading the prime minister to doubt his coalition’s future.
Following Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s joint announcement on Monday evening that they had agreed to hold a vote on dissolving the Knesset next week, paving the way for Israel's fifth election in three-and-a-half years, Zoabi stated that she would “not run for the next Knesset either within the Meretz primaries or with an Arab party.”
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Stating that she was proud of her actions, Zoabi told national broadcaster Kan that if she had resigned, “the Knesset member who would have come in my place would have voted in favor of the Judea and Samaria regulations,” she said, referring to regulations applying Israeli law to the settlers, which is extended every five years.
Responding to Horowitz’s remarks, Rinawie Zoabi said in a subsequent interview that Horowitz’s was doing both of them a disservice by speaking in such a way and that she was “hurt by that.”
She further replied that the biggest mistake she made was that she no longer fought "for returning the flags of Meretz's ideology, which are the issues of occupation, of true equality between Jews and Arabs, true partnership."