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Israel’s fragile unity government faces a potential collapse after an independent Arab party suspended its membership in the ruling coalition, amid the breaking out of fresh violence between Israelis and Palestinians and recent attacks by Hamas, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Islamist Ra’am party said it was freezing its membership to protest against the government’s handling of the clashes at the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, a site considered holy for both Muslims and Jews.
The party – as well as Palestinians and other Arab citizens in Israel – have accused the government of changing the status quo and degrading Muslim control over the holy site in favor of Jews.
However, the government denied that it has changed the rule that only Muslims can pray at the site. It also accused Hamas and other groups of inciting violence.
The mosque is the third holiest place for Muslims, as well as an important site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the location of Jewish temples in antiquity.
Ra’am’s move comes a few weeks after a right-wing coalition member left the government, causing it to lose its majority in parliament. Analysts noted that if the Arab party – or one of its members – abandons the coalition, it would reduce the unity government to a minority in parliament.
It would also leave it vulnerable to a vote to dissolve the legislature and send the country to a fifth election in about three years.
The recent events come amid a wave of deadly violence in the country that is coinciding with overlapping holidays for Jews and Muslims. The situation has raised fears of a wider conflict breaking out as it did last year when war broke out in the Gaza strip.
On Tuesday, the Israeli military struck a number of targets in Gaza, including a site used by Hamas to manufacture weapons, the Times of Israel wrote. The Israeli strike came hours after a rocket attack from Gaza, which was intercepted by the country’s “Iron Dome” defense system.
Although military officials did not blame Hamas for the attempted attack, it said it held them responsible for the rocket’s launch.