Israel’s Bennett loses majority after coalition MK leaves

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Jerusalem (AFP) – A key member of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party said on Wednesday she was quitting her coalition government, in a surprise move that leaves it without a parliamentary majority.

Idit Silman’s announcement left Bennett’s coalition, an alliance of parties ranging from the Jewish right and Israeli doves to an Arab-Muslim party, with 60 seats – as many as the opposition.

“I tried the path of unity. I did a lot of work for this coalition,” Silman, a religious conservative who served as the coalition’s chairman, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, I cannot contribute to damaging Israel’s Jewish identity,” she added.

On Monday, Silman hit out at Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, after he asked hospitals to allow sourdough bread products into their facilities during the upcoming Passover holiday, according to a recent Supreme Court ruling. overturning years of ban.

According to Jewish tradition, unleavened bread is not allowed in the public domain during Passover.

“I am ending my membership in the coalition and will try to continue convincing my friends to go home and form a right-wing government,” Silman said.

“I know I’m not the only one feeling this.”

Following the announcement, Silman was embraced by the same right-wing politicians who had attacked her relentlessly since Bennett reneged on campaign promises and formed his ruling coalition with her last year.

“Idit, you are proof that what guides you is concern for Israel’s Jewish identity, concern for the land of Israel, and I welcome you to the national camp,” the leader of opposition and Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu in a video recording.

“I call on whoever was elected with the votes of the national camp to join Idit and return home, you will be received with all honor and with open arms,” ​​the right-wing former prime minister said.

To form his own coalition without new elections, Netanyahu would need the support of at least 61 lawmakers, which he currently does not have.

The Religious Zionism Party’s Bezalel Smotrich, once Bennett’s political partner, expressed gratitude to Silman for his “courage to take the difficult step” and predicted that the ruling coalition would not survive change.

“This is the beginning of the end for the non-Zionist left government of Bennett and the Islamist movement,” he wrote on Twitter.

There was no immediate comment from Bennett, whose Yamina party now holds just five of parliament’s 120 seats.

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