Israeli government coalition reduced to minority after left-wing MK resigns

The government can no longer pass laws or approve budgets without the support of opposition party members


JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - OCTOBER 12: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the Jerusalem Post's annual coference on October 12, 2021 in Jerusalem, Israel. The conference featured officials, diplomats and business leaders discussing the health, economic and security challenges facing Israel. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

A Member of the Knesset resigned from the ruling coalition on Thursday, reducing it to a minority.

The resignation of Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi of the left-wing Meretz party leaves the coalition led by Naftali Bennet with just 59 out of 120 seats in the Knesset.

Rinawie Zoabi said in her resignation letter to coalition leaders Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid: “Unfortunately, in recent months, out of narrow political considerations, the leaders of the coalition have chosen to preserve and strengthen its right-wing flank.”

She was critical of tensions at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, tensions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in east Jerusalem, as well as "the funeral of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.”

Abu Akleh was shot dead last week during an Israeli counterterrorism raid in the Jenin area of the West Bank, and her funeral was marred by clashes between mourners and Israeli police.

This resignation means that the government cannot pass laws or approve budgets without having the support of opposition party members.

The Likud-led opposition parties, headed by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, abandoned plans last week to advance a bill to dissolve the Knesset and hold new elections, but is now said to be considering plans to advance the legislation next week if it believes it can put together a majority, The Times of Israel reports.

Rinawie Zoabi’s resignation is the second in the last two months. The coalition lost its majority in April after conservative MK Idit Silman, resigned from her role, citing her belief that a “national, Jewish and Zionist government" should be leading Israel.

Silman has joined the opposition Likud party, currently led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This defection came after Silman criticised health minister Nitzan Horowitz, a member of the Meretz party, for lifting a ban on chametz in hospitals during Pesach to comply with an Israeli Supreme Court ruling.

During a Knesset meeting, MK Silman voiced her anger at the move, saying: "People in the Holocaust fasted on Passover so as not to eat chametz, and a minister in the State of Israel within a coalition like ours, unfortunately, intends to introduce chametz.

"The people of Israel have certain values that entire generations have died over, and we in the current government will not be part of their overthrow and we must respect the public."

READ MORE: The clock is ticking: will Naftali Bennett make it to his first anniversary as PM?

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