A bill brought before the Knesset by Joint List chair, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), to establish a hospital in the northern Arab city of Sakhnin was approved in its preliminary reading on Wednesday evening, November 10, in a vote of 51:50, dealing a defeat to the coalition. To become law the bill must still pass another three readings. Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), presented the government’s opposition to the bill,
Joint List MKs celebrate in the plenum after the Sakhnin hospital bill passed its preliminary reading, Wednesday, November 10, 2021. (Photo: Knesset)
The legislation on the Shakhnin hospital received the support of many opposition MKs who are believed to have voted in its favor simply to embarrass the coalition. The preliminary vote on the bill was approved by a single vote after coalition Ra’am MK Mazen Ghanaim voted with the opposition to build the hospital. Ghanaim resides in Sakhnin and was previously mayor of the city numbering a population of more than 30,000, and whose current mayor is a leading Hadash activist, Dr. Safuat Abu Riya. Ghanaim was booed by fellow coalition MKs in the Knesset plenum hall for voting for the bill.
MK Odeh told the Knesset plenum he would be willing to work with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz to plan the hospital. However, to become law the bill will still have to pass three votes in Knesset committees and the same number in the plenum. Odeh said the bill was the first step in correcting the injustice of there not being a single public hospital in any Arab-Palestinian town in Israel.