Yamina MK Idit Silman announced early Wednesday morning that she is resigning from the government coalition. As a result, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government lost its 61 seat Knesset majority, putting his government in a tie with the opposition. This potentially enables the opposition to veto any coalition bills and If another MK were to leave the coalition, the government could be brought down in a law brought by the opposition that would disperse the Knesset. If the opposition achieves a majority, they will be able to establish a government without having to hold elections.
Huge political development in #Israel: The head of the coalition from the party of PM @naftalibennett, @iditsilman, is leaving the coalition because she “cannot take it anymore.” Scoop by @amit_segal
— Gil Hoffman (@Gil_Hoffman) April 6, 2022
Amit Segal of N12 News, who broke the story of Silman’s resignation, reported that Prime Minister Bennett did not have advance notice that a member of his party would resign, leaving the premier to learn through media reports that he had lost his government majority
בנט גילה על הפרישה מהדיווח שלנו
— עמית סגל Amit Segal (@amit_segal) April 6, 2022
Silman’s decision to leave was due to her ideological differences with the government’s Left-wing partners, including the Meretz and Labor factions and comes just days after she leveled an ultimatum against Health Minister and Meretz faction chief Nitzan Horowitz over his order to allow hametz (leavened grain products) into hospitals in Israel over the holiday of Passover.
In her resignation letter to the prime minister, Silman said that she had “joined the current coalition out of a genuine desire to produce unity and closeness on the basis of the common good that unites us as a people and as a state. I honestly believed that in this way we would be able to realize the ideals with which we set out.”
“I cannot [continue] any longer,” Silman said. “I tried unity. I worked hard for the present coalition government. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to support harming the Jewish character of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. My values and where I came from do not let me continue on this path. I am ending my membership in the coalition, and I will continue to try to convince my friends [in the coalition] to come home and form a right-wing government. I know that I am not the only one who feels like this.”
קם הדבר ונהיה pic.twitter.com/dy22cnn6sb
— עמית סגל Amit Segal (@amit_segal) April 6, 2022
A second Yamina MK hinted that he may not remain in the Bennett government for much longer. MK Nir Orbach told the Giluy Da’at newspaper that he will not sit in any government which freezes construction in Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, adding that a building freeze is being considered by the current coalition.
Other members of the coalition were hopeful that the current political crisis could be resolved. Yamina MK and Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana said in a radio interview that he hoped Silman would change her mind. “I hope it is reversible. This government is doing good things for the people; it was formed because of political exigency, but I think it is very worthwhile for it to continue to function.”
“We are in a difficult time for our coalition. Political crises happen, and this is definitely a difficult one,” said Labor Party chief and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli. “The Labor Party and I are committed to doing everything possible to keep this government functioning and working.”
Right-wing lawmakers were quick to congratulate and praise Silmin for her resignation. Former Prime Minister and current opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement “I was very moved to hear MK Idit Silman’s statement, and I congratulate her on behalf of the masses of the people of Israel who yearned for this moment.” He also predicted that the Bennett government will collapse in the near future.
MK Keti Shitrit (Likud), MK Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism), and MK Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) were among the many who released statements praising Silman’s decision.
According to the Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel, if the Bennett government is unable to restore its majority, the two most likely outcomes are either elections or the formation of a new government within the Knesset. If the Knesset is dissolved and new elections are called, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid would immediately replace Naftali Bennet and become interim Prime Minister until a new government is formed, according to the coalition agreement.
Alternatively, the opposition could cobble together a coalition of at least 61 Knesset within the current Knesset, avoiding handing the premiership to Lapid. Given that the Arab Joint List would not support the formation of a right-wing administration, it would need to pull away seven members of the current coalition. Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s eight-seat Blue and White party, as well as right-wing components of the present coalition, are potential options for joining with Likud and the other right-wing parties, although it is unclear whether Bibi Netanyahu would become Prime Minister in such an agreement.
A third scenario would be where the current coalition government, which is now unable to pass any legislation, would continue until the beginning of 2023 when a new budget must be passed and failure to do so would trigger dissolution. At that point, Israel would go to new elections and Yair Lapid will become Prime minister until a new government is formed.
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