Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie-Zoabi, who propelled the coalition down a tailspin last week after announcing her resignation without prior notice, backpedaled on her decision on Sunday.
Rinawie-Zoabi's surprise announcement last Thursday evening meant that the country's governing coalition now lost its majority in Knesset and held just 59 representatives in the 120-seat legislature, making the possibility of an immediate snap election — Israel's fifth in just three years — much more likely.
The Arab lawmaker's swift volte-face was disclosed at the end of a meeting Sunday between her, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and representatives of the sector at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Jerusalem. Meretz's Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej, a close associate of Rinawie-Zoabi, and Yisrael Beitenu Minister Hamad Amar also attended the meeting.
According to sources familiar with the details of the meeting, Arab leaders raised civil issues and expressed their discontent with how the coalition handled matters pertaining to the sector. They all stated during the meeting they respect the government and want it to endure.
Issues such as the recent clashes between Israeli forces and Muslim worshippers at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque and the upcoming nationalist March of the Flags in the capital, which are both considered hot-button topics for Palestinians and some Israeli Arabs, were not mentioned at the meeting, the sources said, adding that Arab leaders preferred the current composition of the government over any other potential make-up if Israel goes to another election.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source who attended the meeting told Ynet that Rinawie-Zoabi said she felt she was failing to bring achievements to the Arab sector and that the pleas of the Arab leaders were going unheeded.
Minister Frej said at the end of the meeting that "it's clear that maintaining the integrity of the government and the coalition is in the top interest of the Israeli public in general and the Arab public in particular" and that "we will do everything we can to turn the crisis into an opportunity to strengthen the government's commitment to the Arab sector."