srael’s ruling coalition government has become a minority in parliament after an Arab lawmaker stepped down in protest at ongoing Israeli forces’ aggression against Palestinians in al-Quds (Jerusalem), and violence at the funeral of slain Palestinian reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.
The decision by Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi of the Meretz party leaves the coalition, headed by right wing prime minister Naftali Bennett, with just 59 out of 120 seats in the Knesset and a more precarious grip on power.
Zoabi said in a letter announcing her decision to leave the coalition: ‘Again and again the heads of the coalition have taken hawkish, rigid and right-wing stances regarding basic issues of utmost importance for Arab society.
She referenced an escalation in violence at the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem (al-Quds), tensions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem (al-Quds), as well as hard-handed tactics used by Israeli police at Abu Akleh’s funeral last week.
Zoabi wrote: ‘I cannot continue supporting the existence of a coalition that harasses my community in this disgraceful manner.
Bennett heads a collection of Israeli and Arab parties that was sworn in a year ago, ending Binyamin Netanyahu’s record 12-year run as prime minister.
Several opposition lawmakers, including Zoabi and members of the Arab Joint List, are bitterly opposed to Netanyahu, who is the current opposition leader.
Netanyahu – in office from 1996 to 1999, and again from 2009 until June 2021 – has openly spoken about his desire to topple Bennett’s administration, force new elections and return to power.
Abu Akleh, who shot to fame in the early 2000s while covering the second Palestinian Intifada, was hit in the face while covering an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on May 11th.
In video footage from the incident circulated widely online, Abu Akleh could be seen wearing a blue flak jacket marked with the word ‘PRESS’, exposing the gruesome nature of the daylight murder.
Ali Samoudi, a Palestinian journalist who was accompanying Abu Akleh, was hospitalised in a stable condition after being shot in the back.
Samoudi said that they were among a group of seven reporters who went to cover the Israeli raid early on Wednesday May 11th.
He said they were all wearing protective gear that marked them as reporters, and they passed by Israeli troops so the soldiers would see them.
The journalist said the first shot missed them, then a second struck him, and a third killed Abu Akleh, adding that there were no combatants or other civilians in the area – only the reporters and Israeli army troops.
Shaza Hanaysheh, a reporter with a Palestinian news website, who was also among the reporters, gave a similar account, stressing there were no clashes or shooting in the immediate area.
She said that when the shots rang out she and Abu Akleh ran towards a tree to take shelter.
Hanaysheh said: ‘I reached the tree before Shireen. She fell on the ground.
‘The soldiers did not stop shooting even after she fell. Every time I extended my hand to pull Shireen, the soldiers fired at us.’
In a raid that has sparked international outrage, baton-wielding Israeli police beat several pallbearers and mourners as they carried the journalist’s coffin out of a hospital before her burial.
Her coffin almost fell as Israeli forces waded into a crowd of Palestinians gathered around it.
- Hamas says a recent landslide student election win by its candidates at a top West Bank university points to ever-growing support for the popular resistance in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Hamas’s al-Wafaa’ Islamic bloc last Wednesday won 28 of the 51 seats on the student council at Birzeit University, marking the first time Hamas-aligned candidates have gained control of the body.
The bloc aligned with president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement won just 18 seats.
Fatah used to dominate student councils in the West Bank.
In a statement released last Thursday, Hamas praised the results as ‘a rejection of the normalisation’ and ‘security coordination’, in a reference to the the Ramallah-based Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s ties with Israel.
Hamas said: ‘This clear victory is another confirmation of the popular rally around the option of resistance, which adheres to the principles and national unity in the face of projects of liquidation and compromising rights and coordination with the occupation.’
The resistance group further said that despite Israeli persecution and ban on its activities, the resistance group managed to decisively win the elections.
Hamas said the elections process represents a source of pride for the student movement and the Palestinian people and a success against Israel’s desperate attempts to disrupt Palestinian democratic life.
Fathi Hammad, a member of the resistance group’s political bureau, said ‘the student movement has proven that (the youth) is the fuel to the revolution.’
Birzeit’s vice president, Ghassan al-Khatib, said some saw the campus vote as ‘a test for measuring public opinion’, with no general elections on the horizon.
President Abbas scrapped elections scheduled for last year citing Israel’s refusal to allow voting in the occupied al-Quds.
But Palestinian analysts said Abbas balked out of fear that Hamas, which administers the besieged Gaza Strip, would also trounce Fatah across the occupied West Bank.
All Palestinian factions have urged the United Nations and the international community to implement the UN Security Council resolutions that call for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to pressure Tel Aviv to stop its settlement expansion policy.
They have stressed that the crimes committed by the Israeli regime against Palestinians are imprescriptible.
There has been a sheer escalation of atrocities by the Israeli regime against Palestinian worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the holy occupied city of al-Quds recently. Outraged by the barbarity, Palestinians resistance groups have intensified their operations throughout the occupied territories.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank.
All the settlements are illegal under international law.
The United Nations Security Council has condemned the settlement activities in several resolutions.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem (al-Quds) as its capital.
- Hamas has warned that a far-right Israeli group’s call to demolish the Dome of the Rock in the occupied Old City of al-Quds and build a temple on its ruins is ‘playing with fire’ and will backfire on the occupying regime.
Hamas made the warning in a statement after the Lehava group, which has earned infamy among Palestinians as a ‘terrorist’ outfit, put out the call in an online post, the Palestinian Information Centre reported.
Hamas called such incitement a ‘deliberate provocation of the feelings of the Palestinian people and the Muslim nation’ and a ‘dangerous escalation against the Palestinian identity, values and holy sites’.
The Palestinian resistance movement added: ‘The flames that are being tampered with by such extremist groups will rebound upon’ the Israeli regime and its leaders.
Hamas called on the Palestinian masses to intensify their presence at the al-Aqsa Mosque to protect the holy site against intended settler break-ins and to stand firm in the face of the occupation and ‘its dangerous Judaisation plots’.
Bentzi Gopstein, the Lehava group’s ringleader, called on extremist illegal settlers to storm the al-Aqsa Mosque and begin taking it apart on May 29th, which falls on the anniversary of the day that the Israeli regime completed its occupation of the holy city of Jerusalem (al-Quds) – where al-Aqsa Mosque is located – during a heavily-Western-backed war in 1967.
Gopstein claimed that the Dome of the Rock’s demolition would pave the way for the construction of an Israeli temple at the site.