Israel could be facing its fifth round of elections in three years.
By Aryeh Savir, TPS
Israel woke up Wednesday morning to a dramatic political development when Member of Knesset (MK) Idit Silman, the chairwoman of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition, announced she was quitting the coalition, thus depriving Bennett of his very slim majority in the Knesset.
Silman, a member of Bennett’s Yemina party, stated that she “can no longer lend a hand to the government’s moves.”
“I tried unity, as someone who came from the worlds of common good, I worked hard for the current coalition. Unfortunately, I will not be able to undermine the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and the people of Israel. I can no longer continue on this path due to the values and the place I come from,” she stated.
“I will end my membership in the coalition and I will continue to try to persuade my friends to return home and form a right-wing government. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way,” she added.
“The Jewish identity of the State of Israel is the right to exist here, it is our heart, it is our essence. Insult, without any regard for the public and the values I represent, is a red line for me,” she declared.
Silman was apparently responding to Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz’s (Meretz) push for Hametz in hospitals during the Passover holiday, an offense to the majority of Jews in Israel who respect the Jewish traditions.
“It is possible to form another government already in this Knesset,” she asserted.
Will the government fall?
Bennett was not notified of Silman’s move and learned about it from the media.
The Knesset is now stuck in a 60-60 tie between the coalition and opposition, a crippling situation for Bennett’s already unstable government. Other members of Bennett’s party are expected to follow Silman.
Silman, who ran on a right-wing political ticket, is now perceived as “returning home” and leaving Bennett’s left-wing coalition, propped up by the Islamist Ra’am party.
Former Prime Minister and Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu issued a taped statement saying he is “excited to hear Silam’s statement, and I congratulate her on behalf of the masses of the people of Israel, who longed for this moment.”
“You have proved that what guides you is the concern for the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and the concern for the Land of Israel,” added Netanyahu. “I am welcoming you back home to the national camp. Proof that true public representatives act according to the dictates of their conscience, and there is no greater right than this.”
He called “on everyone who is elected by the votes of the national camp to join Idit and return home, you will be received with all due respect and with open arms.”
The Knesset is not in session now, but Bennett’s government appears close to falling, less than a year after he entered office.
In this case, Israel will be facing a fifth round of elections in three years.
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