Israel's Arab party mulls quitting coalition over Al-Aqsa mosque tensions

(Xinhua) 08:33, April 18, 2022

JERUSALEM, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Israel's Islamic party of Ra'am said Sunday that it considered quitting the coalition government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to protest against the police actions at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Mansour Abbas, chairman of the Ra'am party, told the Israeli-Arab A-Shams Radio that his party, which has four seats in the 60-seat coalition, was mulling resigning in protest of the police actions at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, injuring and arresting hundreds of Palestinians over the past three days during the clashes.

"Al-Aqsa mosque is a red line for us, including at the cost of the stability of the coalition," Abbas said, adding that "there is no political consideration in the matter of the Al-Aqsa Mosque."

Israel's state-owned Kan TV news reported that Ra'am was calling a special meeting scheduled for later the day on a proposal to leave the coalition.

In a letter to Bennett, Mazen Ghnaim, a Ra'am party member, said "if the security forces' activity in the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque is not halted immediately, I consider myself not to be part of the coalition."

The remarks sparked further tensions within the coalition that ended the rule of Israel's longest-serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2021.

Israel's Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai told Kan Bet Radio that "the security forces should not compromise the security of Jewish visitors at the holy site just in order to maintain the coalition at all costs."

Bennett's coalition lost its majority a week and a half ago after a lawmaker with Bennett's right-wing Yamina party left the party and joined Netanyahu's Likud, Bennett's predecessor and main political rival.

The move, less than a year after the inauguration of the new government, threw the coalition into disarray. The coalition is now governing with only 60 seats in the 120-seat parliament.

If Ra'am will quit the coalition, it may trigger a new round of elections. 

(Web editor: Peng Yukai, Liang Jun)


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