Israel’s Bennett loses majority after MP quits coalition

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A key member of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party said Wednesday she was quitting his coalition government, in a surprise move that leaves him 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 — the same as the opposition.

Although Silman’s defection does not mean the fall of the coalition, it raises the spectre of a potential return to office by veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu, less than a year after he lost the premiership to Bennett. “I tried the path of unity. I worked a lot for this coalition,” Silman, a religious conservative who served as coalition chairperson, said in a statement. “Sadly, I cannot take part in harming the Jewish identity of Israel.” On Monday, Silman lashed out at Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, after he instructed hospitals to allow leavened bread products into their facilities during the upcoming Passover holiday, in line with a recent supreme court ruling reversing years of prohibition. Jewish tradition bars leavened bread from the public domain during Passover. –AFP

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